Memories of a Time Gone By – Crazy S.O.T.B.

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Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…

I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale.

I have just told Todd that I was going to die…

He wept.

Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…

So it began…

At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Dante would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.

The rule was set…

You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!

Yes Sir…

I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.

This is your life we are talking about…

The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.

Angry Larry…

When I got sober there was a man with AIDS named Larry, he was a drunk like me. But he was unique. He sat with a bottle on the table and a loaded revolver to shoot himself. He carried that gun with him and showed it to every one of us, and he told us relentlessly that he was going to kill himself. He got sober with the rest of us. Over the years following his spiritual awakening, he did something that no one else thought to do.

People with AIDS were being left in the streets. Mortuaries would not process sick people, they would not touch a body that had been infected with AIDS. Families would not bury their children. We did that. Larry opened his services to the community and he became another champion of the cause. I knew him. He eventually got rid of the gun, so I heard.

For a few minutes during transition, I would warm up the smoker, fire up the turntable and start the computer so that I could worship my God to the music of my soul. I did that every night. I worshiped whatever was going to save me.

I was servant to the men. I was servant to my Master. I was a slave for God, be he dressed or undressed. You never saw God until you witnessed true beauty of the soul in all its carnality. There is something sacredly profane about this part of my life. What went on inside the temple stayed in the temple. Many months would pass and I battled my demons of alcoholism before I finally fell into the pit of death, and there happen to be somebody watching from the sidelines.

Danny saved me that night. He was the man who cradled me in his arms, oxygen mask on my face and had called the paramedics to try and revive me. Danny took me home that night, and did not leave my apartment for a week. He fed me, bathed me and cared for me, under that watchful eye of my Master Todd. When the word was spoke, action was taken, and hell hath no fury if you did not jump when told to. Todd was very protective over his boys and men.

We were reminded that Todd had lost love to AIDS. Bob was buried across the street in the cemetery that faced our building. It was hard – it was painful, and it was sacred. Kevin and Larry did things for me that no man ever did for me in the real world. We were the three musketeers. We were the team to beat in bar management and service. We ran a tight ship and we were accountable, respectable and reliable. We proved a mighty force against the odds we all faced.

Let’s get it on…

Shift was begun at eight. The wells were filled the beer was stocked and the ice bins were full. Put your money in the drawer and let’s get the music thumping. Like clockwork at the strike of eight bells the first note hit the turntables. They were lined up around the building. Cars were parked all over the place. The temple worship had begun. Heaven was found amid the souls of suffering men who knew they were all marked for death, but for tonight, whatever you desired was fulfilled. You could drown away your sorrow and dip into the well of living water if you wished as well. You have never lived until you party like your dying with crowds of undulating flesh as far as they eye can see. The ghosts of those men now inhabit the fantasies and dreams I have still to this day.

One by one, two by two, they died in our arms. We held them until they took their last breaths. Memorialized in the careful and blood soaked threads of quilts, as the years went by, they started collecting by the dozen, then by the hundreds. If you’ve ever seen the entire quilt unfurled, all the men who were part of my life in those first years of my epidemic life, they are all together in death, as they were in life. Memorialized until the end of time. And we remember each of their names.

So many young boys torn from life before they knew what hit them. Men who infected them had died as well. Many of my friends were taken on trips that were detrimental to them, and just robbed them of life that was still left to live.

Todd saw to it that I would never go there…

You come to work, dress as you will, you obey me and do not waver from my eye, for I know your carnal desires and you are too young to tempt the devil with his dance. Because I surely did not know what could befall me if the right charmer enticed me into his web of desire, and they all knew I was fair bait. But in order to dine from my buffet, you needed explicit permission of my Master, who never allowed any man to defile me like many had been. I was off limits. I never crossed the line provided because that meant disrespect and I could never bear to break my Master’s heart with disobedience.

I loved Him, and He loved me – I had many problems. I was depressed and angry and resentful. I had the scars of traumatic visions of my dead lovers corpse in my head, and the words of his mother still ring in my ear today “I hope that every night until you die, that you see the corpse of my dead son in your field of vision.” That curse still lives with me and will go with me to the grave. Five day old corpses are not pretty. I had to identify the remains when all was said and done. Save that he was wearing jewelry that I could identify and part of him was still recognizable – God forgive me…

I remember that day, it was early afternoon the morgue called me from work to come and do the deed. I drove in and looked upon him in that room, I wept tears that burned into my soul forever. I just could not imagine – the pain was so hard to bear. I drove over to the bar. Bill was working behind the bar. I drank until I could not stand up on my own. I drank for a week, straight…

Todd and Bill needed to find me a solution and quick, because I was on the outs.

I started suicide therapy in a group setting that lasted 32 weeks. Nothing like rehashing death week after week, until the pain was purged from your soul, but is it ever? Months went by until I got my news.

But they cared for me in all my brokenness. A young angel would earn his wings back. Come hell or high water. In the end, when all was said and done, at the end of the day I survived, but so many did not. And each night I offer them prayers in hope that when I meet my death that all of them will be waiting for me in the Temple Of Earthly Desire in the promised land of the Kingdom of God, where the sacred and profane are mingled with the blood of the Almighty and the blood of my friends who have gone before me, on that day we will be cleansed of our sins.

And forgiven by God…

Amen

Goodnight angels of men

In a church,by the face,
He talks about the people going under.

Only child know…

A man decides after seventy years,
That what he goes there for, is to unlock the door.
While those around him criticize and sleep…
And through a fractal on a breaking wall,
I see you my friend, and touch your face again.
Miracles will happen as we trip.

But we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We get a little crazy
No we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We are a little…

Cray…cray…cray…

…Crazy yellow people walking through my head.
One of them’s got a gun, to shoot the other one.
And yet together they were friends at school
Ohh, get it, get it, get it, get it no no!

If all were there when we first took the pill,
Then maybe, then maybe, then maybe, then maybe…
Miracles will happen as we speak.

But we’re never gonna survive unless…
We get a little crazy.
No we’re never gonna survive unless…
We are a little…
Crazy…
No no, never survive, unless we get a little… bit…

Oh, a little bit…
Oh, a little bit…

Oh…
Oh…

Amanda decides to go along after seventeen years…

Oh darlin…
In a sky full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
In a world full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Crazy…
In a heaven of people there’s only some want to fly,
Ain’t that crazy?
Oh babe… Oh darlin…
In a world full of people there’s only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy…

Ohh…
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless we are a little… crazy..
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless, we are a little.. crazy..
No no, never survive unless, we get a little bit…

And then you see things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

They’ll break it

Someday…

Only child know….

Them things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…

Help Will Always Come

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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 ???

Thursday night, after the meeting I was really emotional and I realized that I was not done mourning the passing of my father. Because of a comment made about him, amid a conversation with a friend, at the earlier meeting.

We were talking about care giving and being a care giver for family and significant others and how tasking that is on everyone involved. A few days prior to this chat, the National News carried a story about just this topic, and how the province of Quebec is going to step up and help care givers of patients and family in assisted living facilities.

I told him the story about my father, when I was in eighth grade, how, when his mother had a very serious stroke, and in a VERY LUCID moment, outside of his alcoholism, he thought that IF he took ME to Connecticut to see her, he believed, from somewhere deep within him, that if she looked at me and recognized me, that she would in essence,
WAKE UP!

What we did not know about serious stroke paralysis was apparent.

Who knew from the now famous “Stroke Treatment” delivered within a very short time from falling into stroke, can avert serious paralysis. That drug did not exist in the early 80’s.

We took a night flight out and arrived late that evening in Connecticut. My uncle picked us up and took us to his house. The next morning we ate breakfast and they drove me to The New Britain General Hospital.

I was not prepared at all for what was coming.

We got to Grammy’s room, and she was laid out, drooling spittle, half her face was in her lap, and the entire right side of her body was paralyzed. I took one look at her, and I fainted. My head hit the tile floor and I ended up in the emergency room that morning.

She indeed, did NOT wake up. However, she knew who I was. I could not rouse her from her lethargy. I sat on her bed for a few weeks time, to no avail.

In the end, a few weeks later, I returned home defeated. My father was crushed.

It is my belief that he held that little trip against me and never forgave me for not being able to do the job, HE BELIEVED, I needed to do for him. His alcoholism cranked up to 200%. And the abuse ratcheted up 200% as well. Whenever he drank, it was me he came after.

Which is why, as time went on, I found other houses to stay in, so I did not have to be at home. I spent an inordinate amount of time sleeping at successive friends houses over the ensuing years, just to get away from my father.

A functional abusive alcoholic can have lucid moments of brilliance and compassion and thought. Interspersed with the drinking came incredible kindnesses. My father paid dearly, in “Things” to assuage my pain that he himself caused me.

When my friend mentioned to me the other night that “My father KNEW that  my grandmother loved me more than any other, i.e. my brother, it was me he took on this trip because “we” (my grandmother and I are spiritually connected).

When I got very sick, it was Grammy who visited me and stayed with me, when everyone else fled the scene. It took a psychic to tell me this, because she would come into my apartment and my bedroom door was always closed, (at that point) at which time she would move pictures on the walls, and scatter magazines all over the floor, until I invited my friend to come over and tell me what was going on …

In his words to my ears: He told me Grammy was standing in my living room, and had been there for a long time, looking after me, and she could not quite figure out how to get through the door, (after which time, I never slept with another bed room door closed, to this very day). She still visits me on occasion here !!!

That comment unnerved me to the degree that I came home an emotional mess and when I got home, I sat down and wrote it all out and did my Step 4 at the same time.

I went to bed Thursday night, not so myself.

Friday, I left for the meeting as usual. I got to the church, and unlocked, and began my set up routine. I was still, not in the right frame of mind. I grabbed the coffee pot, from the cabinet and lo and behold, a single sheet of paper fell to the floor at my feet, from the stack of papers we have to one side of the cabinet.

I picked it up, as it fell face down, on the floor, and took a look at the newspaper clipping. It was a newspaper clipping telling the story of the house where Bill W. was born, in East Dorset, Vermont.

The house is NOT on any map. You would have to know, before hand, where you were going in order to get there, because there aren’t any signs along the way saying …

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THIS WAY TO BILL’S HOUSE !!! This is the actual house as it is.

Anyways, I read the article and thought to myself, wow, I had never seen this article in the cabinet before, so there has to be a reason it fell out, onto the floor, at just the most opportune moment.

Which hearkened me back three years to the weekend that my then sponsor, my best friend Joe, and I, were on our way to a men’s intensive at Mad River Barn, not far from East Dorset that very weekend.

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And ON THE WAY … We visited Bill’s house where he was born. We also visited Bill and Lois’ grave, just up the road in a very small and non-nondescript cemetery. If you did not know the cemetery was there, you’d not know to go there and pay your respects to the Founder and his wife.

Coming back to the present moment, I was in my head, clearly not myself, standing there alone in a church basement, with this piece of paper in my hand, and the very clear and resonant memory in the front of my brain.

Another of life’s synchronicity.

These little spiritually ignited occurrences happen often to me. And when I most need them, HP does the trick and sends me a sign from above, to remind me, that I am well cared for, and there is always someone up there, looking out for me.

The weekend was a success. It has been Hotter than Hell in Montreal since last Friday, and the heat wave will continue through Thursday night, later this week.

It has been UNBEARABLE !!!

I am chairing this month at the Monday meeting, and we read from the Big Book. Before the meeting I was sitting outside the hall, thumbing through my Big Book, looking for a suitable passage to share with the group. And I happened upon the story:

Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three … Pioneer of Akron’s Group No. 1 The first A.A. group in the world …

And I came to the end of the story where he is having breakfast with Bill and his wife Henrietta, and Bill says to her:

“Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.”

This one sentence is A.A. Gold…

The reading, in the end, speaks about an Absolute State of Grace and Gratitude.

Which brings me this realization as I am sitting here typing these words that:

If you don’t have a topic for a meeting, the default is ALWAYS

GRATITUDE !!!

We’ve come full circle now.

June 12, 2016 – I Remember

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On Sunday night, June 12, 2016, I was sitting in front of this box, watching this news come in. That night, I threw in my religion towel and told God to go Fuck Himself, that He would let this happen to kids, hanging out in a bar, that I hung out in, when I was their age, and that gunman killed all those young men and women.

It turned my world upside down for more than a year. It was the WORST, cathartic emotional event in my life, since the day I was diagnosed with AIDS on July 8th, 1994.

TURNED MY WORLD UPSIDE DOWN !!!

I remember them. And will never forget this night.

Happy for Harry …

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The world will witness Prince Harry marry his sweetheart Meghan on Saturday, in St. Georges Chapel in Windsor Castle. So much has changed for the young prince, Brother to Prince William, and uncle to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

I remember, long ago, the image of a much younger Harry, his brother William, Father Prince Charles, and Earl Spencer, on September 6, 1997, walking behind his mother’s funeral cortege, in front of the whole world.

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It might not have been the best choice to have the boys walk that walk, but, the wisdom of the day, dictated that action. Harry later said, that it was the hardest thing he ever had to do in his life, save, fight in a war …

I remember, the night Diana died. Where I was, what I did, and the days that followed. I remember the day of the funeral, watching with the rest of the world, that had fallen into a sadness never seen before, in my lifetime.

A few days later, a funeral mass was held in Miami, at one of the Anglican Cathedrals in downtown Miami. For that event, I sat down and penned letters to William and Harry. letters about my experience, watching their mother marry. I had a tv in the car, that day as I went to work with my father, and watching the wedding sitting in his office.

And for the rest of my life, being witness to a force of nature like the world had never seen before. I told them many things, many things that escape my memory today, seeing I wrote those letters in a fog of mourning.

I always wonder if William and Harry, received letters like mine after the funeral when all the books of remembrance were carried to London from all corners of the world.

That is one question I have always asked of the universe, whether they read those letters or are they just collecting dust in some storage location. I would have been honored had they done so, but seeing how difficult life had become for both boys, then, I imagine that any reminder of that sadness was quietly stored away for posterity.

My lifetime has been full of Royal Wonder. I loved Diana, and everything that she represented to me, primarily then, Living with AIDS, and knowing how much she cared for people like me, gave me a sense of hope that I did not find in many places then.

Diana loved her boys, William and Harry, very much.

I remember one poignant memories, The Royal Yacht was berthed behind the RCI Building on Port Miami, and Diana was to meet the boys for the first time in as many weeks aboard. We all know of that image of Diana greeting the boys.

I’ve witnessed William and Harry grow up and become men. Both William and Harry have grown into fine young men, with promising futures. I think we can all agree, Harry did not have such an easy time of it, during younger incarnations of himself.

I imagine how hard life must have been for both William and Harry.

Diana hated the press, and did her best to shield her sons from the glare of photographers and paparazzi. Sometimes she succeeded, other times she utterly failed. William and Harry learned a valuable lesson about the press throughout their lives, and both William and Harry, have kept the press at bay for the most part.

Now all the cameras of the world will be focused on Windsor Castle this weekend. The little town of Windsor has been inundated with spectators and press. I would think that rankles Harry to no end. But I am sure he will be well protected from prying eyes, while he marries his sweetheart Megan.

We should all be proud of Harry. The final young royal son to be married in our lifetime. We have witnessed Royalty at its best in watching Diana become a woman, AND a Royal, be married in St. Paul’s, seeing her have her children, and being blessed to see William and Harry grow up into fine young men.

I imagine Diana is looking down on them tonight, and she smiles.

Imagine what it would have meant to William and Harry to have their mother present for both their weddings and child births. Alas, I am sure Harry will honor his mother in some special way on Saturday. I’m sure she is not far from his mind and heart, during this very difficult time for Meghan.

Let us remember Diana, in the lives of her son Harry this weekend and be glad for him. Harry has walked a long road to redemption and honor. And we should honor his commitment to becoming the best man he knows how to be. He intimated as much during interviews during the Invictus games here in Toronto.

Well done Harry. Welcome to Married life. Now life REALLY gets REAL.

Once you utter those vows, the real responsibility begins to your wife.

People don’t necessarily use an engagement period as homework for the real thing, but I had that experience myself. I warned Stephan on the day he married my niece Melissa, that they might have had 11 young years together, before their nuptials, but now the rubber meets the road.

So will it be for Harry and Meghan.

Let us all wish them the best.

Hip Hip Hooray Harry and Meghan.

Essay: Knowledge

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A long time ago, in a galaxy, far far away, I went back to school at age 34. Growing up, my parents told me that they would never pay for my college education. However, when I graduated high school, Junior Achievement gave me a scholarship to the local community college in Miami where I grew up.

There was a trade-off for the gesture though. One that I did not pay back accordingly. Telemarketing is an evil business, and one I highly recommend you avoid at all costs.

But I digress …

That first year was not all of a washout. I did pretty well. Took a psychology course that rocked my socks off, taught by a female professor who rocked my world.

I could never get the hang of writing term papers. All those steps, and papers, and note cards, and bibliographies … ugh !!!

Over the river and through the woods to grandmothers house we go …

After that, in my second year of studies, I landed in a Catholic Seminary. The church paid for that, even though I was asked to leave after only a year, because I was not part of the men abusing boys club. That was a dirty little secret.

After that, alcoholism took its toll on me. That ride into hell began swiftly, and ended in a grand crash and burn at age 26.

Today, I walk on hallowed ground, that has not been trodden by men, such as myself, at the age we are in, living with a fatal disease, “now manageable” that was supposed to kill us ages ago.

But like a fine wine, we will not be uncorked until the right time.

From my parents, I learned a great many things. Early on, I learned how to be responsible for a house, by gaining the key to the front door, at an age, in today’s world, kids that young need constant supervision. Back then, we were free range kids.

It was such a simple time, the 1970’s and 1980’s.

We did not fear the world, and the people in it, like we do today. Freedom was something we did not take for granted, but appreciated. Neighbors, were neighbors. Kids in our neighborhood would travel in packs from one house to another, day in and day out.

We were not saddled with smart phones, or a PHONE for that matter. We were not attached by umbilical to a computer day in and day out, like we are today.

Taking care of a house, and being responsible for my brother, was a big deal, however my brother never paid me any attention. And memories of him are negligible. He does not seem to want to know me today, because he lives in his resentments like both my parents do. My father went to his grave resenting me, and my mother would rather eat dirt than acknowledge me in any way, shape or form.

I learned how to work, well, early on. I had some of the best jobs in my life, throughout my life, in certain stages. My first job was in a grocery store, bagging groceries, and cleaning and stocking. I scooped ice cream for a season. Another great job, was a short order cook in a chicken shack, (2 actually).

Skip ahead a few years, and many alcoholic drinks later, and I land the most important job I will ever have in my life. Working for Todd, (read: God). Hands down, the best of times and the worst of times, were spent cleaning garbage, plunging shitty toilets, filling ice buckets and stocking beer, bar tending, and the best job, Working in a DJ Booth.

I learned practical life lessons, that I still draw on to this very day, from Todd (read:God). What I failed to learn from the Big Book, that first round, was that I needed practical life knowledge that would help me survive. Sobriety was important. If I had died prematurely, what would have been the need to learn anything. I could have just decided to kill myself slowly with drugs and alcohol, like all my other friends did.

Todd (read:God) had other ideas for me.

When I started this blog 14 years ago, its main goal was to catalogue all of my memories, while I could still access them, before they were forgotten. What I have learned about life is PAGED –> over there.

When Todd, departed my life, and his solid voice of counsel was gone, his steady hand, and voice, and physical presence in my life, was gone, I thought I was going to die. I had no idea how to make it alone in the world, at age 29, circa 1996.

I did fail miserably.

Years later, in 2001, I got back on the horse and began riding for my life. It took me a while to begin to work my way out of my hole of insanity. Opportunities opened to me and I took each one of them as they came.

Providence was in my favor. I set myself right with God, and He moved heaven and earth for me, that I am solidly sure of today.

God is the fine thread that is woven throughout my life. The year I spent in seminary, I devoted my life to God, and I promised to serve Him and Him alone, for the rest of my life. Interestingly enough, it took me a long time to figure out HOW I was going to do that, after being dismissed from the church proper.

Troy took me to my Second, First meeting. I stayed for a second Second meeting an hour later, and met the folks who would carry me back into life, as it happened. Some of those initial friends, are still friends to me today. Albeit, from farther away.

A year into Sobriety, my rehab counselor Margo, asked me what I wanted to do with my life, now that I had achieved a year sober. I had to think about it, at first. The answer I came up with was I want to go back to school.

What did I know then ? I had my lessons. I had some solid, terrifying life experience to bank on. I had survived, 9 years, I was still alive… 2003 was a good year.

On February 13th 2003, I became a Canadian Citizen. In September of that same year, I began my university career. At age 34. A long time ago, I promised God that I would serve Him and Him alone. Religion and Theology was given.

However, I began my university career in Psychology. That was short-lived.

From the very start, when I began to write about myself, there were many detractors, who used to batter me with vile shit. Saying things like, “A gay cannot be a Christian, and why would a gay study religion and theology, when gay is incongruous with scripture?”

Some say they know God.
Some say they know their Bibles.
Some say that they speak for one, and believe in the other.
Then there are those who know neither.

What I did not know then, I know now. I may not have known, all that I needed to know, and I used to get in the mosh pit with the vipers at first, (Not very sober, mind you) until I stopped being taken for cheap.

I boded my time, and I studied hard and well. And over a ten-year period, I finally collected two very important pieces of parchment.

University bachelors Degrees in Religious Studies, and a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry.

All the while, getting sober at the same time, and caring for my husband, because he is mentally challenged, and was very ill for a very long time.

For years, I was chief cook and bottle washer.

I know a great many things about a number of topics. I may not know everything there is to know about certain subjects, I have my truths.

I know how hard mental illness is on the human who is ill. And I know what mental illness does to significant others, and families by extension. I learned this all the hard way, one day at a time. 15 years later, we both survived it.

In sobriety, I thought to continue into the Masters of Theology.

What I did not know, was a harsh lesson.

All the men and women I studied with over the last ten years, followed that track into the Masters Program. However, I was an outside, one, because of my age, two, I was getting sober, three, I was married, and four, it wasn’t all about ME.

On the very first day of Master’s Classes, I walked into that first classroom, with my fellows, and it was obvious to me, something was WAY OFF.

My friends had outgrown their pants. Their heads we double their original size. They had coupled and tripled up together, congratulating themselves on conquering the world and holding it by the balls.

It was obvious that I did not get the memo that went around telling me that over that last summer I should have stoked my EGO and carried it into class.

I did my best. But I knew very soon, that I could not produce Masters Quality work, in the academic sense, to the degree I needed to produce. I got to a point, in my studies that I could not compete, nor was academically astute to continue any further.

And as fast as the Theology department had swung the door open for me, they swung it shut so fast, it took my breath away. They did not even blink an eye.

I went from hero to zero in minutes flat.

I still write, as often as the mood hits me. I, like some of my friends, I have made over the years, have a career. It may not pay the big bucks, but it suffices.

How do you parlay degrees in Religion and Theology, into a career in Sobriety ?

One day at a Time.

The Preachers Circle I belong to, still exists. My mentors Elder Christensen and Pastor Randall, and Father Donald are true and solid men in my life.

I read like a mad man. When I got sober this time around, part of my daily routine, at the end of the day, is a little prayer and meditation. Then I crawl into bed with a good book.

To my credit, I have at least a couple hundred books on shelves in my bedroom, in my library. They come from Indigo, and begin life on my bedside table. When I finish each book, they go on the “READ PILE.”

Knowledge … I may not know everything there is to know about MANY things. Gladly, I can say, that I know a few things, about my area of expertise. I read, to learn about subjects that interest me.

I know better than to state categorically, that I have certain knowledge. because that would invite pitchforks and fire.

I was talking to a friend the other night. He had just returned to Canada from a world-wide trip over seven months. Going from Canada, to India, to Nepal and then ending in Israel.

Israel and Palestine is a topic fraught with complications. To pick a side, is dicey. To say you agree with one and not the other, you take your life into your own hands. I don’t know everything about that area of the world, but I do have an opinion, based on solid reading, written by solid trusted sources, ON THE GROUND.

My degrees in Religion and Theology come in handy when broaching the subject of lands steeped in Religion and Faith.

A long time ago, when people would say vile things to me about what I was studying or denigrating my abilities of what I know, I caved under that kind of scrutiny.

I cave No Longer.

When I turned 40 … That little door in my brain opened. And little by slowly, I realized that “I knew things for Sure.” I had forty years of hard-earned and fought experience behind me, that I have a story nobody can take from me. And experience that would curl your toes if I discussed the nitty-gritty of the scourge of AIDS, and what I experienced on the ground, as I lived it.

My forty decade was a watershed for me. It changed the way I see the world around me.

I survived 25 years. And I have that story in my arsenal of knowledge.

Now in my fifty decade, I am still waiting to see what is going to come next, because I am in uncharted territory, medically, spiritually and physically. This is the task a hand, to make the most of every day, every moment.

Life is all about what you know, how you learned it, and how you apply all the knowledge you have inside you, to better the world around you and the people you call your friends, and the family you have.

My biological family wants nothing to do with me, even though I have worked terribly hard at reconciliation over the years, to no avail. My father went to his grave hating me, never giving me that chance to amend that relationship, and my mother is on that same hateful and spiteful road herself. My brother is also on that hateful road too.

Fuck me for trying.

I heard last night that mining the past for the missing key to life, is pointless, because the answers are NOT in the PAST, but reside in the present.

However, I have spent the past fifty odd year data mining the past, divining all the secrets and lessons I could remember and write down, hoping to find the key to who I am and why I am here, and what it all means.

Some of my friends find this kind of task too daunting. This was the choice I made in my sobriety, to learn the stories that needed to be learned, to mine the past for nuggets of truth, and synthesizing all that information and incorporating all that knowledge into the bank for my own personal use.

I’ve spent a lifetime, bettering my life. Life is hard work and not for the faint of heart.

Once you get told that Jeremy you are very sick and you are going to die a miserable death, so go home and kiss your ass goodbye … I did that for a short while, and tried to kill myself in the drink.

THANK GOD that TODD (read: GOD) stepped in.

Because I live to tell that story as often as I have to, to make sure you know that there is life to be lived, as long as you believe you are worthy of all good things.

There IS a GOD and I am not HE.

Knowledge is Power. Use it wisely.

Thursday: Sinking into God …

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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

I thought about you last night, while at my Monday haunt. I was talking to a young man of my acquaintance, his name is John. He has quite the story, in summary though, he got to the bitter end and his marriage was in the toilet.

He came to us, and has stayed. The marriage is a work in progress. They are better for the ware and tear that took place. He’s in our rooms, and she is in Alanon …

A couple of weeks ago, John told me that he had found gainful employment finally, after his crash and burn. Starting off at ground level, he found a job as a manual laborer. In a school.

Answer: He’s a janitor.

Sweeping, mopping and shoveling snow… menial tasks but labor nonetheless. He started this week. And seems to be at peace with it.

He has found the meditative art in the quiet. His saving grace, it seems.

His wife is working in a kitchen preparing food for the restaurant, working with a friend of hers who took her under her wing so to speak. She seems to like that small quaint space. The Kitchen. It suits her well.

They got through the holidays, this year, just barely. John was one of the grouping from Monday night, we worked very hard at keeping sober over those two weeks. Everybody is still sober. Thanks be to God.

I had told John, before the meeting about my relationship with the man who saved my life, when it was most needed. Todd kept me focused and on point while at work.

He had a saying that stuck and worked miracles for me. He said early on that I could trust him, and I did, implicitly. I thought tonight, that I have not trusted anyone to that extent before or since. Now or before.

He said that as I approached the building we worked in, whatever was on my heart and worrying me, that I needed to leave it outside the doors, and once I crossed the threshold, the only thing I needed to worry about was the work I had to do each shift.

That pin point focus saved my life in the end.

So with my friend John, with all that is going on in his life right now, I shared that thought with him, that while he was IN the building, the only thing he needed to focus on was work, and not what had been going on in his head upon the approach.
Hopefully that piece of advice will stick and keep him on the beam, so to speak.

Then a God moment happened for all of us. The chair introduced for discussion, Step Three, in the Big Book, Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
How appropriate.

And here I just told the story about turning my will and my life over to the care of TODD, (read: GOD) as I understood Him.

If there is a God, I met Him in the flesh, all those years ago, and I am still alive to speak about Him to others.

Which bring me round to you … A while back, at one point, you said to me that I could not bullshit God that whatever I was holding back, needed to see the light. hence, I heard you say that and I took that last step into God.

But it wasn’t until I tell this little story to my friends that God makes perfect sense, in that, I knew without a doubt what it felt like to sink into Todd, (read: God) with complete abandon. I knew it, because I had practiced it. over and over.

With my father’s death, I have written about him. And lately I focus on his generosity when it came, and his goodness when it showed. and that when my father was good, he could do no wrong. Even if he tried.

I’m not sure that all the goodness in the world, when it came to abuses, if that cleared his good points off the score board. I’ve been trying to dream about him at night. No success there. I’m not sure he would think to come to me now. Too much water under the bridge I think.

I wonder how he died, if he was at peace, my brother was there, and the day he called me he asked me if I had had any questions about my father’s passing, at that time I said no, because there was too much anger on the dashboard to think clearly and have a lucid conversation about death. But I wonder now.

I wonder what God said to him, after this life he lived, and the manner he chose to live it in, including my mother, because I am sure she is going to have that same conversation with God He did, at some point.

I believe that they both want peace on the other side, after the lives they chose to live, and the way they chose to live them. I believe God would have wanted that for them finally. And I muse about the fact that my sainted grand mother was waiting for him when he finally got there, she was an amazing women who loved deeply.

I hope the three of them are there together, where ever that may be. My mother will have the same cheering squad when she goes, because Memere was all-powerful and saintly. She had the 1-800 number to God for the whole of my life. When she died, she came back to me for a long while.

In fact, all of my grandparents came back to me, in specific form, we all knew them when they showed up because we all saw them and interacted with them. When I was sick and going to die. grammy used to come and visit my home.

I know this because I slept with my bedroom door closed. And every morning I would get up to scattered magazines on the floor and the painting on the wall tilted. A friend who was a seer came to my home not long after and grammy was there, waiting for us.

She told him to tell me not to close the bedroom door, for some reason she could not find her way through the door closed. hence I never slept with a closed-door again. She comes to visit often and stands at the foot of my bed. But I see her. If she has that power to come back, then maybe she will share it with my father at some point, and he will find his way back to me eventually.

Sadly, my father has not made the journey back across to see me. That kind of bums me, I kind of wonder if he thinks about me there, and if he sees me from where he is. That is quite a question I have.

I kind of know what redemption feels like because I am still alive. I’ve felt the true power of God in motion. Here on earth. Very few people harness that kind of energy for me. Todd was one of them. The only one for what he was able to do for me.

Surely, if that were God, then I know. I believe that we all have One redeeming Quality, deep within. Deep in my father’s heart there was goodness, kindness and love. It just got buried with all that abuse and crap he went through.

If I know God, like I think I know God, my father was redeemed. And was forgiven. In keeping with thoughts of how good he was, I can forgive him as well. Because God would want that from us, right ?

I know how to turn it over to the care of God as I understand Him, implicitly. Been there, Done that.

Every time I know I am in deep water, spiritually, all I have to do is close my eyes and see Todd in my mind’s eye, and I know God loves me, and all of us.

So I sink into God fully and completely. Without reservation.

Another Sober Holiday Success

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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.

The day I packed my moving truck, there were sober people standing outside my apartment saying to me … “You think you should think this over again?” “Are you sure, this is what you want to do?”

By the time the truck rolled up, I was resolute. I was going. Nobody was going to stop me. In hindsight, I should have listened, it would have saved me great pain and loss, across the board. It would have saved my sobriety.

In 2001, when Troy walked into my life saying that “He did not drink today,” led me back to the rooms. That Divine prayer I uttered to God, came to pass, as I needed it to, on the timing that I needed it as well. God gave me this little edge. But I know now, everything is on God’s time-table.

I had returned to Miami, and moved to the beach. Where, the first time I got sober, I was in South Miami, IN the city limits, on the mainland. The second time, I was getting sober, ON the beach, in a room, I believed was safe from the prying eyes of those people I had fucked over, on the mainland.

Like they would not talk about whose back and where ? Like nobody would know I was back, “In the rooms, again…” I got sober in the month of December. The worst month to come and attempt sobriety, with the holidays right around the corner.

I had no choice. It was sink or swim.

Thankfully, the men and women who welcomes me the second time, asked me to STAY, they did not TELL me to GO AWAY. I stayed. For those first few weeks, I was safe and insulated. I did not venture far from the SOBE room.

On Christmas Eve, 2001, my friends decided to take me to a Christmas Eve Meeting, In the city, ON the mainland, where I might cross paths with people I knew, and with people who knew me.

I stepped into Poinciana that night. It was a dark, candle lit meeting. Everyone I knew from the first time around was sitting in the room, as I walked in. And you know that look, from people who watched you go, think to themselves, and you know what I am going to write here and say out loud … “Look at that poor sod, back around again.” The look that crossed their faces at me. Pity and Sadness.

That I had to go out, to come back in. I still remember how my friends looked at me that night. If I could have crawled under a rock and disappear, I would have.

On Christmas night, Fonda and Ed, took us all to their house for my first sober holiday meal and fellowship. They took care of me every day that I showed up.

Dr. Bob’s Nightmare …

I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I do it for four reasons:

  1. A sense of Duty
  2. It is a pleasure
  3. Because in doing so I am paying my debt to the men and women who took time to pass it on to me.
  4. Because every time i do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip.

Sixteen years have passed now. Sixteen sober holidays in a row. And we can call the holiday season of 2017 a success, because all of our young people are still sober. Having survived their first Sober holiday with us.

Overheard at the meeting tonight:

  • I went to sleep on New Years Eve – Alone
  • I WOKE UP this morning – Sober
  • I did not have to wonder what I did last night
  • My bed was warm and cozy and the sun shone
  • I don’t remember the last time I was sober on New Years Day

At five years sober, I was at our Tuesday meeting, and bitter Bernadette was scheming her holiday plans, thinking out loud to the room, as we listened to her talk.

I’ll be sober on the ground, and drink on the plane, and be sober on the other end. No, maybe I will be drunk on the ground and sober in the air and drunk on the other end … No maybe I’ll just say fuck it and drink all the way across the Atlantic to the UK to see my kids …

I stopped her and spoke these words …

I know you are fresh and vulnerable. I know how you think this scheming is going to work in your favor, but it won’t. If you cannot stay sober, and this trip to see your kids is going to push you to drink, THEN DON’T GO. CHANGE YOUR PLANS… You can CHANGE your plans, you know. You DON’T HAVE TO GO.

She looked at me incredulously. And she asked if I had kids, which I do not. She had kids. ADULT kids, at that. She said that I don’t understand what it is like to be a parent, and I don’t. I responded with this … If your kids are adults, then if you explain the situation to them, about your sobriety, they will understand, if you decide to change your plans and go later, or when you are stronger in sobriety.

She once again looked at me, she grabbed her purse, and walked out of the room, and she never returned. I don’t know what ever became of Bernadette.

It was my first pass at some semblance of sober thinking, at five years sober for me. I thought at the time, that advice was sound. Obviously, it wasn’t, because she was not listening to me at all.

TO THIS DAY, my friends and fellows do not listen to one word I say to them.

Like I have written earlier in the week, my fellows stayed sober, suffering through their first holiday sober. And I said to them, quite confidently the other night that:

Yes, you are sober for Christmas, AND Suffering is entirely OPTIONAL.

They all laughed at me.

Tonight, at the regular Monday meeting, all those kids who laughed at me, were not laughing when they responded with what I wrote above. They were dead sober serious. It was a first for all of them.

Our kids are ALL SOBER TONIGHT.

By the Grace of God and the fellowship of the Program.

Thank God, there is a God and I am NOT HE.