Sunday Sundries: We Are Not Saints

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It was a full day today. My friend got on the bus a few minutes before I arrived at the station to meet him, so I took a later bus out to the West Island. The crowd was smaller today, than yesterday.

We heard a number of speakers, from Ontario, Lexington, Kentucky and Tampa. My experience of the weekend, was not the same as in weekends past. I heard many similar ideas tossed about. The themes of powerlessness, the loss of choice, and decisions we make.

I heard it said, from one of the speakers today that, “An alcoholic can make the decision to stop drinking. We have that capability, to decide. The problem arises when we attempt to stay stopped.”

A phrase I head a very long time ago from a wise woman, when I first got sober, all those years ago, was repeated over the weekend.

Stick around until the miracle occurs …

Two of our speakers were military veterans of war. So my friend, I was running with for the weekend, had a great deal in common with them, and found affinity, and made some serious contacts for his future.

I believe that if I am kind to my friends, that is what I am meant to do here on earth.
To Be Kind…

There are many issues faced by our sober community here. Things I observe. Words I hear spoken. Attitudes I am not inclined to encourage or be around, for that matter.

I had a conversation, well, I attempted to have a conversation with the long sober woman who spoke last night. And it seemed to me, she did not want to offer me anything of substance. Like it was beyond her to actually sit and listen to me.

I told her of my travels and some of my concerns. When I broached to topic of my emotional meltdown in a meeting, some time ago, and what took place on that very day, she looked me dead in the eye and said that my behavior in that meeting was unacceptable, and that I should have kept my mouth shut and not gotten emotional.

So much for compassion and tolerance for those with different struggles.

The only thing a meeting is concerned with is keeping people sober. Anything beyond that is unacceptable, she reiterated !!!

Alcoholics Anonymous is not for the emotionally challenged she said. Her caveat was, that probably, most alcoholics don’t know how to handle that kind of thing, beyond staying stopped from drinking, because that’s what a meetings for, right ?  Not to take that next drink, nor deal with an emotionally upset man sitting at the table.

Her curt answer struck me as odd, seeing she talked about all the good we could do for each other, and all she could muster with me was an admonishment for my poor behavior in front of other alcoholics.

ODD !!!

I also told her of the brain drain with old timers flying the coop, and going down their proverbial rabbit holes. She said to me that their rabbit holes were not my problem, and not my concern. But if we see folks walk away, it falls upon us to repeat to them, that there is no graduation date, no end point in sobriety. And invite them to show up, even if they don’t want to.

On the way home, I learned that our long sober woman, when picked up at the airport the other day, was abusive to her handler. She was not kind to the young woman charged with taking care of her during her stay here. She insulted and demeaned her, and in the end, that same young woman, told the committee that she would no longer serve her charge, and that somebody else could do it.

Damage Done.

How it works says that “We are not saints. But we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”

In the end, as the story was related to me, that woman was invited to Montreal to speak because she had serious double-digit sobriety, and was a pillar in her home community. And she showed up here and was a Cast Iron Bitch to the committee.

You can’t get up there and preach goodness and sobriety to a room full of people seeking a way to live their lives sober, and then turn around and be unkind and bitchy.

I did not seek another audience with anyone else the whole weekend. I welcomed the other speakers and thanked the veterans for their service, because my father served with them in the very same theater of war in Viet Nam.

The witness of true sobriety were those two veterans. Hearing their stories of war, and the suffering they witnessed, and came home as damaged as my father was when he returned from the war. My father, though, never dealt with his demons. He just drank them away hoping that they would disappear, which was what these two men attempted to do as well.

The end result was a crash and burn and entrance into the rooms, where they both figured our what to do and with which professional. They both got sober. Got married later on, had children and lived successful lives sober, to this date.

The damage of war, is sometimes insurmountable. As we see today, in our soldiers who have gone to war in Afghanistan and other places. What we have on hand today, is helping some of our men, acclimate to sobriety. With the help of our little village of long sober and many not so long sober folks.

It Takes a Village.

The weekend was very beneficial for outreach to the young people who showed up for the weekend. Connections were made. Conversations were had. Now it falls to us to foster those connections going forwards.

I have MP 3 copies of all the talks which I will burn to my computer this week, then hand the box off to make the rounds of anyone who might want them for themselves.

Again, as I saw it, and experienced the weekend, once again, I am reminded, strongly, what I am going to take away as lessons in a good way, but also, in lessons of what I experienced, as in, I know what I am not going to perpetuate.

I might have half the time that many of the speakers had over the weekend, but I am no fool, nor am I stupid. I watch how people treat each other. And when I see long sober people acting like assholes to my community, the hair on the back of my neck stands up.

I don’t care if you are a sick alcoholic like the rest of us, if you cannot act accordingly, then I have no use for anything you have to say to me or to us for that matter.

There is no excuse for unkindness.

That’s why I stay away from old timers. Because they aren’t prefect. And many of them have treated me unkindly, and not so soberly. I know who I trust and who I talk to on a regular basis. And that is just fine with me.

Other Alcoholic Rabbit Holes are none of my business.

I choose what I take on and what I do not.
I’ve learned at least that in sixteen plus years of sobriety.

There but for the Grace of God go I …

When to Speak

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I changed up my routine today, to make time for a noon time meeting, because a lady friend I adore was speaking. The first time I heard her speak, at the Thursday meeting one night not long ago, I was transfixed by every word she said.

Some of our women friends have similar tragic stories that have downward spirals that, at one point listening to her tell her story, I was saying to myself, “there is no way she can pull out of this death spiral she is in…”

Everybody around me is holding their breaths, waiting for the Miracle to Occur.

And for each of them, the Miracle really did happen. Miraculously !!!

Today I heard something I did not hear before …

At her worst, after loosing her kids, and in a funk, trying to get it together, her sponsor tells her … “Just call home, let your kids know you are still alive…”

Little pieces of advice that seem innocuous at the time, turn out to be the beginning of the building of the bridge, that will eventually lead her back to her kids AND sobriety.

She and I have something in common. A very special education in sobriety.

She came in twenty-five years ago, and I, almost seventeen years ago, respectively.

We both came in bedraggled. And we walked into a room and were overwhelmed by the people in those respective rooms. And by the grace, we both DID what we were TOLD to DO.

Without question. Without argument.

Because in her words from the other night …

YOU WANT TO ARGUE WITH HAPPY ???

The goal in this life is to be happy. Across the board, in all our affairs. Some find it, others do not. Some take the long road, others, get it right away and walk the short path.

She said to me today that, sobriety is too loosey goosey. People are too easily distracted by shiny things and their phones. Nobody wants to follow the simple plan that we both know works.

People want to argue semantics and Happy !!!

UGH.

Yesterday I was grocery shopping, as I am wont to do every few days. We collect plastic and we recycle at the store before we shop. While standing at the machine I noticed a familiar face at the can drop next to me.

I knew this man. He was sober, when I first came in, almost seventeen years ago, and worked at the rehab center I was affiliated with back then, where I had after care and my counselor sessions.

Key words … He WAS sober.

I’ve seen him around over the years. Many of the men and women I knew from those years back then, have all mostly disappeared from the area and the rooms. There aren’t many people from the Old World left in Montreal.

Yesterday, he was disheveled. His clothes were torn and dirty. He was wearing a white sneaker on his left foot, and a green high top sneaker on his right.

While I was depositing my bottles he stopped me amid swing to ask me why I was putting metal into the plastic machine. I stopped and responded with, “why would I put metal in a plastic machine?”

He turned away and walked ahead of me into the store. I did not follow him around, because I don’t know him, like I know my friends in town, so striking up a conversation would have been awkward to say the least.

I kinda wanted to ask him where he had slept the night before and had realized he was wearing two different shoes and why his clothes were ripped and dirty.

You kinda know the answer to those questions pretty quickly, on the first pass.

He had a bag of cans he probably collected from metro bins and garbage cans on his way into the store to get his meager change to buy whatever he could afford for that trip.

Outside the store another friend of mine who does outreach to the Indigenous Community here in the city, was standing guard in the hallway outside, watching his people gather.

Where ever people gather, there is bound to be strife among them. Thankfully he is armed with burger vouchers for McDonald’s in the mall right in that area.

People are more amenable when they have food in their stomachs. So before he steps in the say anything, he hands out food vouchers to anyone who wants them.

He does more than that. He is counselor, medic, affairs officer and the grand poobah of the downtown core.

There is suffering all around us. for those of us who live in this neighborhood. I’ve been here seventeen years now, and I know how bad things can get on a good day. Even worse on a bad day.

Sometimes you don’t have to say anything at all. And for the most part, not saying anything is the best policy, because you don’t know the back story you are witnessing at the moment.

Rather not embarrass people on the down and out with observations, they probably already know about themselves, so they don’t need a reminder of how rough they might look at the moment, even if what you want to say would be meaningful to YOU.

So I say hello. I nod. I observe. And I record data.

I know how many of the people I knew who were sober once, are out there on the street today, down and out.

Why some people fall through the cracks and end up back out on the street I don’t know. Some people just fall away. Was it because of people, from the past, who shunned folks away? Those of us who did not attach to certain cliques ?

I met a man who had fifty-eight years of sobriety today. He knew the Montreal Founders. Men and women who are still around from THAT FAR BACK, are few and far between.

They usually come out of seclusion for their cakes to show us, that you CAN be sober for decades and be happily married and happy in general.

Many people at that noon meeting suffer needlessly.

They just don’t connect, even though they know where to go and who to talk to.

And for that we are grateful for small mercies of sobriety. And we utter that slogan, that people usually ignore or don’t know what it means …

THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD …

I could be one of them.

A Fellow Drunk, Secrets and Sobriety

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Lorna Kelly, The First Female Sotheby’s Auctioneer, Died in June of 2016, SOBER …

This post, originally posted to my former blog, was written as a document. I had this exact conversation with a drunk, in person, to his face. And he told me to fuck off at the meeting.

So I came home and wrote down what I had said.

It wasn’t until he read these words for himself, did he get indignant, and send the Pitch Fork crowd after me, saying how terrible I was that I wrote about him, broke his anonymity, which I categorically DID NOT, by NOT mentioning his name at all in the piece, and that I had adversely affected his sobriety. Only he would have recognized the story was about HIM specifically.

He never approached me on that I wrote any of this, nor has he said a word to me since, not that he deigns to speak to me in public, anyways. He could not bear to speak to me because I was right. But he sent enough people to my blog to tell me that he was mad at me and that I had broken his anonymity. Which I Did Not…

So I shut down the blog and moved it here. And that FUCKER sees me in meetings now and does not even acknowledge that I am sitting a mere ten feet from his chair. Nor does he, in any way, make mention that he read the blog or has anything to say to me in public. Because he knows I was right and that HE is a PUSSY …

Lorna Kelly once said, in her wisdom about alcoholism,

“Only You know what you do in secret…”

The Book says, that at some point in your sobriety, the only thing that will stand between YOU and a DRINK, will be your Higher Power.

The Book also says that, the obsession of EVERY alcoholic is this …

“That one day, we will be able to drink normally like other people.”

The Thursday meeting did not disappoint again, tonight. One of my friends spoke. What goes on in Vegas, is supposed to stay in Vegas. Well, we know tonight, that adage is not really true.

All it takes is a shot of tequila while standing in a pool at an expensive hotel on the strip. Take a sober man, put him in a POOL with his fellows on a business trip, far from home, disconnected from his sobriety, and hand him a shot !!!

At first, he tosses the first magical elixir SHOT into the pool, much to the consternation of his fellows, so they hand him a second SHOT, this time, he downs that shot, and is off to the races. One shot devolves, from that expensive Hotel pool on the strip into seedy hotels off the strip, lots more alcohol, girls, and illicit drugs.

Thank God he had the presence of mind to STOP. He takes himself to the airport, a few days short of completing this business trip, and pays $2500.00 for a plane ticket, and comes home.

Straight men, in the corporate world, have it really bad because we heard him say that the corporate world is COLD, and that MONEY is COLD.

14 months ago, that few night slip, took place.

Thank God, 14 months later, he is sober.

At the end of the meeting, the 12 step rep got up there and handed the chip.

Surprise, surprise, a man I know well, got up and took that chip.

Many years ago, a man came in. Reticent, and Unrepentant. At that time, I was not as sober as I am today. And what I did not know then, I would not figure out, what I did not know, until I was on the other side, looking back at it, right now today.

Nonetheless, one night, after a meeting, I sat with this man, and gave him the speech. Told him what I was doing, and how I work with others.

Needless to say, he did not want what I was selling.

And to this day, he still does not want what I am selling.

You can only WHITE KNUCKLE it for so long. Because eventually, YOU are going to drink again. My gay friends, in the rooms, have not much love for me, because they all think I am a bit mental, and crazy, and they are, and have been, the most judgmental about my personal appearance and my presence in meetings.

For the whole of my sobriety, I have watched people. I’ve listened to them talk. And I know what they are doing, and what they are not doing. I know, many things about my friends, that they don’t even know about themselves, until they drink again.

My particular friend, has been white knuckling it for a long time.

Here was a SURRENDER that was YET to happen…

My friend is a member at the Monday meeting. And for the last many months, he comes in, shakes hands perfunctorily, and sits down. For the last many months, he has been more OBSESSED with a light switch on the wall, rather than paying attention to reading the book, that we have been reading religiously for the last 14 months.

He is more concerned with that fucking light switch, rather than his sobriety.

Because he is the guy who shuts the switch, turns on the switch, and when to flip the switch.

He’s been doing this for months. Now I recognize that behavior, looking back at it, because I heard many times before, that if you are disconnected at meetings, that you really need to reconnect, at your own peril.

Over the weekend last, he thought to himself, and he said this to the room that,

“If I had a drink, one drink, in SECRET, nobody would know …”

Well, God knew. And He knew as well.

Stubborn pig-headed queer men are the bane of my existence. My gay friends don’t want to know me, and they are fixated on topics that I have already walked through myself, but over the past year, these are the same men who shunned me and snickered at me, while I was in my cups and at my worst, mentally and emotionally.

My friend took a drink, in secret, hoping nobody would find out.

FAIL !!!

I may not have been as sober as some think of me today. But the good God’s honest truth is, I am still sober, and I did not drink, even in the worst of my personal hell over the past year, I stuck it out, white knuckling it, as I figured this hell out for myself.

Because nobody wanted to sit with me nor help me …

Yet, I have the presence of mind at meetings to pay more attention to my friends, than on my own self. I read the book, I share from my heart. My straight friends are A LOT more supportive in the grand scheme of things, than my gay friends.

Somewhere, deep in my consciousness, now that tonight took place, that the warning signs were there all along. I had seen them materialize. I knew what they looked like, now on the other side of an intentional SLIP.

Lorna warned me, warned us. Because this man was sitting in the same West Island Round up when she spoke those words to us about the Secrets we keep to ourselves and having to guard our secret moments, we keep to ourselves.

More than once, in her share, she said and I quote …

Alcoholism, is like a snake, slithering through fine china and wine glasses, across the table, at an epicurean feast fit for a queen, is always there. And on the second night of that feast, a fellow lady at the table suggested to her that she drink, to “enhance the pasta dish,” and in that moment she had a choice, to DRINK or NOT to drink.

She put down her fork and knife, put her hands in her lap and said the Serenity Prayer to herself. Thereby avoiding a slip at that table.

The day after, she had an emotional breakdown in her room thankful that she had God in her corner and that she knew what to do in that moment of choice …

She did not drink that wine, and was sober until the day she died almost a year ago, in the Thirty something sober range….

The Book of Forty is closing. The Book of Fifty is about to be opened.

I know God is in my life because my spiritual directors, Spencer and Randall kept me on that connection every day.

I am sober and made my Statement of Faith the other day in my Inventory …

Monday I will be Fifty … And I will be SOBER…
I wrote this on Friday before my birthday July 31st, which was a Monday this year.

There is a God and I am not He.

Some of my friends are not so lucky.

The Book says, an alcoholic Will Drink Again. Lorna said that We must be diligent in our secret spaces.

And Mother Teresa said to Lorna, on her sickbed that…

YOU MUST PROTECT THIS SPECIAL GIFT … (read Sobriety)

Part TWO of this story … If You Want What We Have …

This afternoon, I got up and went to do my shopping. And I ran into Canadian Tire to purchase that light switch, to give to my reluctant fellow who drank again. It is just a simple light switch you wire into the wall.

Before the meeting, I ran my stupid idea past two very sober men, who I trust with my secrets and thoughts. They both agreed I was barking up the wrong tree, because we all agree, my fellow, really does not want to be sober, because he has not even admitted to himself that he is an Alcoholic, and that he is powerless over alcohol and drugs. And he has no desire to be Honest with even himself.

I sat on my idea for the whole meeting.

A fellow I know very well spoke. He’s just a few years ahead of me at nineteen years. He said that once we come into the rooms we begin doing good things for others, which makes us feel good about ourselves.

And we build Self Respect.

Self Respect IS important, because once you build self-respect, in sobriety, we really don’t want to fuck that up. He also mentioned honesty and willingness to do something good for ourselves now that we are sober.

He is fifty-five years old, and I just crossed the fifty mark myself. I know him, but I don’t HANG with him, nor anyone from his crowd. But I see him often, where I hit meetings, and he is consistent in work and ability.

I sat outside with my sober men before the meeting and watched people I know, from the meetings I HAD been going to approach the door. They would walk past me and not even acknowledge I am standing there, except I say their names out loud, as to say, I acknowledge you, even if you don’t ME

They don’t want to converse with me before or after the meeting. It is like I don’t even exist in their spectrum of who they talk to, before and/or after.

Many people in the rooms are like that. They will shake your hand and exchange pleasantries, but nothing beyond that minimal effort to look sober.

Is that all about ME or all about THEM ?

I don’t know. I just know that people (certain people) really don’t care for my brand of sobriety nor honesty in my observations of them, or the fact that I am sober a good while, and many of them are not.

After the meeting I approached my light switch fellow, and made MY PITCH.

I explained the light switch I had purchased and why I was giving it to him. I told him that he wasn’t paying attention to anything, because he sat in a meeting and read THE WHOLE BIG BOOK cover to cover, and decided to drink again …

WHO DOES THAT ???

I know he does not think highly of me at all, being Queer like me. But I am not a Queer like many of the other Queer men I know in the rooms. And I said that to him, prefacing my remarks. He wasn’t buying what I was selling.

In closing he looked at me like I was from Mars, after handing him the light switch and made my sales pitch and replied, I don’t know what to think about this.

I hugged him and walked away.

Not sure if that little TOOL will do anything for him, but I offered a last salvo to tell him that I was paying attention to HIM and his stupid choices, because obviously, he wasn’t paying attention to anyone or anything. And I told him so.

I encouraged him that he really needed to start paying attention …

I said these words to another drunk. He balked and turned and walked away. A few days later, he reads my blog and get indignant and sends the Pitch Fork Crowd after me.

Hence, here we are safe, protected and away from prying eyes…

Friday: Episode 2 – Mentally Drinking !!!

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This morning, first thing, before I did anything else, I called my sponsor.

He picked up the phone.

I went about my day, with a clearer head, and a lot more calmer than I was before I went to bed last night.

I took the Metro to the meeting, and cranked out set up until a fellow showed up to help me finish. And one by one, I spoke to other men, who are much longer sober than I am, who were sitting in the room last night, while I spoke.

I am told, by one, that if there is someone in the room, who I don’t like, or who does not like me, for one reason or another, THAT is the person I need to speak to, from the chair.

And really, when are things, at any time, all about me ? But my perceptions…

I know, some, have problems with me, because I am prosperous, doing well, have good friends, and am somewhat sober.

In most cases, it is NOT all about me.

My friends tell me that I carried the message. And that my friends sitting in the room, only wanted to help me along. That’s good.

Another friend, I had dinner with prior to the meeting, tells me that at this stage in my sober life, I should be at the jumping off point, where I have not had a drink in a long time, I’ve done The Work, I am living life, well, it is time to seek spirituality a little harder.

Wednesday afternoon, my sponsor said to me that, he sees that I like regimen and structure, and order. Not in a “controlling” fashion, just orderly. He tells me that I need to let loose my fist, being clenched so hard, trying to maintain order and control, and open my hand and Let Go and Let God.

I need to practice, a little harder and trusting God.

I’m not quite there yet, even now.

And tonight, I said to the room …

My head is not someplace I should go alone. That my thoughts are dangerous, and I was reminded that, if I think I know something, and plan on talking about that, really, I should just keep my mouth shut.

When I got sober the first time, and Todd was guiding my little ship of horror, I would go to work, leave my problems outside the door, and I allowed Todd to do the thinking for me, because that is what was needed, Todd knew that if I fixated in my brain, the thought of dying, that I WOULD DIE.

And He found the way to keep me out of my head, while I was in the building. It took years upon years of hard work, to be able to do that OUTSIDE the building.

When Alcoholics told me to “go and not come back,” what was left, but the thoughts in my head. Once that happened, the disease of alcoholism, that sick little voice in my head, began working its magic, which lead to my slip.

Because I was thinking, and not thinking very well, left to my own devices.

And over the past months, as feelings and emotions came on, hard and strong, the rat in my head had become overpowering, and what happened ?

I began to mentally DRINK.

In the beginning, there is an idea. Then the thought follows. If not controlled, that thought becomes an action, which leads to a drink.

I didn’t physically pick up a drink, I just went there MENTALLY.

I planned my share last night, down the the finest detail. I THOUGHT I had something particular to say. I ran those thoughts past my sponsor, and got approval.

I sat up there last night, knowing that a major pain in my ass was sitting in the crowd, and I allowed that individual to crank me up, which sent me off script and into my head.

I got home and I was IN my head all night long.

And now I know what that feeling was, it was a Mental Drink.

At fifteen and a half years sober, I still don’t have it, that something I thought I had, looking back at all my friends, knowing where they are. I am not like many of my friends, I’ve said before, who are emotionally and mentally cracked, in double digits.

I am my own worst critic.

I know, right now, that I probably will not get up and talk in front of a room of drunks again, any time in the near future.

I had a message I wanted to speak. I wrote it down. Prepared myself to speak my truth. I can do that in meetings, talk with clarity and faith and meaning. And when I talk, inside a meeting, I am good, for the most part.

I don’t speak, often… I’ve not spoken in front of a group in over six years. So it isn’t second nature. I might hear myself talk inside a meeting, speaking to a Speaker crowd is much  different than sharing in a meeting.

And I don’t have it.

Whatever, I think I should have. Clearly, it was not my night, and I wasn’t spiritually full, and I was easily swayed into homicidal thoughts because of a single man sitting in the crown, who slept through my share … Whom I loathe with all my soul.

My sponsor repeats the thought that:

Your Sobriety and Serenity are the only things that matter now. And anything you allow in, that affects either your Sobriety or Serenity is dangerous. Because if you are not vigilant, and you allow (people,places or things) to sway you …

That is going to lead you back to a drink.

And now I know that I’ve been mentally entertaining a fucking DRINK…

Whatever I think I have, I don’t. No matter how hard I fought to get to this point, I thought I had it, until I got up in front of a room, and opened my mouth.

FUCK ME !

It matters when you get up in front of a room, to have IT.

I did not have IT, at all …

Thank God I am not perfect, nor God. I am not a saint by any stretch of the imagination.

The Books reads … We are Not Saints. Progress not Perfection. Willing to go to any lengths. Then you are ready to take certain steps.

A. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
B. The probably no human power could relieve our alcoholism.
C. That God could and would if He were sought.

Thursday … The Shoe Store

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I was talking to an elder friend at the meeting tonight and he was in Florida for a month. He had gone to a meeting, and met a very nice woman from India. They were talking about that meeting, on that night.

Every meeting has one, we all know what it is, but nobody who really engages in their sobriety, will utilize them. Where you sit, in a room, is a good barometer of where you are in your sobriety. Some call it, “Front Row Sobriety,” however, not a lot of people sit in the front row, except for those who are used to sitting there regularly.

Many of us don’t want to sit in the very front row …

I am a second row sober man. I always sit in my same seat on Thursday’s. On Friday I sit in my regular seat, right at the front of the table, next to the chair. That is my seat.

Every meeting has a “Back Row” of seats, right along the back wall. Various people, in various meetings, sit in that proverbial back row. Some sober folks with lots of time, who don’t necessarily want to draw attention to themselves, sit in the back row.

That is common.

Then, you have those people who are the last ones in, they either come right at the hour, or just after. So all the seats up front are all taken, by the time the meeting starts. Which dictates that, if you want a front row, or front of the room seat, you have to get there early.

The back rows of a meeting, are usually sat with folks who sneak in, just under the hour mark, and fail to get a seat up front, or further to the front.

The conversation my friend had with the Woman from India, concerned The Shoe Store:

And she said to him, “You know that back row of seats ? Yeah, he said, she continued:

That back row is the Shoe Store … You have the Loafers, the Sneakers, and the Slippers.

All the shoes are represented …

We had a good laugh.

Here, we know about that back row. Those people who come in last, or late. Usually, they don’t make it till the end of the meeting. Or, they are the last ones in and the first ones out after the prayer concludes. They come and go, with negligible contact with anyone, because they really don’t want to interact with anyone in the room, for one reason or another.

Seating in a meeting is time sensitive. The earlier you get there, the better seat you are going to be able to choose, if you choose. Most of my friends always sit in the same areas.

Those who sit in the front row, or those who sit in the middle of the action, and those who tend to hang back in the pack. In an unobtrusive seat, like I said, where they do not bring attention to themselves.

In all my meetings, I do service, one way or another. So I have my choice of seat. I see everybody who comes in the room. I try and shake hands with each one of them, as one of my other elder friends said to me once …

When you shake a hand, it is very important to ALWAYS make eye contact. And you always want to SMILE. Because we want people to feel welcomed and that we mean goodness when we shake their hands, and not seem like we are put out by having to greet, when we really don’t want to greet …

Before the meeting tonight, one of my friends, whom I have not seen in a while came. And we sat outside talking about Yoga, the Gym and Work.

I know for me, as I said to her, that, “You just got to stick around…” “You just have to STAY and watch your friends and your fellows.” I know that I watch my friends, and over the past many months, I see how hard I have worked, and how little others have worked. And it shows in their carriage and demeanor, and in their words, when they speak.

The amount of work you put into your sobriety, shows up over time. And every time you hear someone talk, you get an idea of just how MUCH or how LITTLE, they are contributing to their own sobriety.

I’ve been around a good stretch of time. And I know all of my friends. I know who they were when they came in, and what kinds of decisions they made, and how fucked up things got, in the interim.

My friend added … Yeah, Shit Happens. And that is true.

I, at least, have an idea of the trajectory I am on, and where I want to go. I feel good. I look good, because for a long time, I did not look good at all. I was just hanging out, waiting for something to happen. I really wasn’t concerned with my well being, all that well. Not Good at all.

I was sober, but I was physically, COASTING …

Back in February, I got a kick in the ass at the doctors office. For the first time, in a long time, I really noticed that my body had changed for the better. I had settled for my pear shaped, bloated belly, ass hanging out HIV look.

For a good decade, I was resigned to the shape my body had taken. I had said to myself,

“Well, fuck it. This is the body God gave me so I better get used to it.”

In February, through diet, exercise and medical treatment, My body did actually shift in the positive direction. And I noticed it. Which sent me into overdrive, mentally and emotionally. I changed my wardrobe. I got sexy. And damn, I looked good.

And my friends all noticed. That has changed my outlook in ways I had not really considered.

Here we are today.

Fifty is beginning to feel good to me. And thankfully,

I am not sitting in the Shoe Store.

Saturday: Odds and Ends, and Everything In Between

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On my trip to see Alexander, we engaged in serious debate about the state of the world. I am not the best at politics, world issues, and everything in between. Our lives at home consist of one cable news channel, and at 11 p.m. we turn to CTV for our nightly news fix.

I cannot go to bed without the last word coming from Lisa LaFlamme.

I’ve never been totally political, as in, devoted to politics or politicians of any stripe. I’ve always known where I sit on issues of the day. But expanding my brain to other news outlets only began when I moved to Canada in 2002. And over the time I have lived here, I’ve explored other points of view.

Alexander encourages that I step out of my bubble and echo chamber to see the world from other points of view. And this is one reason I love my best friend, because he is from somewhere else, (read:Brazil) and he has world knowledge that I do not. He has a smarts about him that no one I know have themselves.

So I read, I watch, and I listen to other points of view. If you polled me online, I rank in the NDP sphere of thought. But I voted for Justin. And he is proving to be a challenge to me.

Alexander sits on the Conservative side of life. And that is NOT a bad thing at all. Because he forces me to see the world, like he sees the world. He challenges me to spread my vision and take in others words, and not just accept words by people I am accustomed to listening to.

Politics and world events are two different spheres for me. I care very little for U.S. politics. And I do not consume politics like I used to because I cannot be bothered on a daily basis to know or listen to repetitive redundant news about a mad man in the Oval Office.

Cannot Be Bothered.

I spend a good amount of my sober life, buried in books. I learned long ago, while in University, that reading “other literature” that situate itself “around” a topic I was studying, as it went along, was very useful.

Reading side literature around a specific topic whether that literature be fiction or non-fiction, built a world for me to engage with on a wider basis, rather than on a single note in time.

I read, Every night.

There are places in the world that interest me. There are social issues that I am passionate about as well. Issues in the world, and issues right here at home are on my dashboard, quite often. I worry about our less fortunate, our homeless, and our indigenous population.

Because I am in the rooms, I’ve seen so much suffering. Friends of mine, in the program have gone on to work in those specific areas of helping the less fortunate. So I am engaged in their work.

Studying Religion and Pastoral Ministry opened my eyes to World Religions, as well, taking care of those people I am engaged with on a daily basis. I have stayed away from posting anything incendiary on this blog, certain world issues, that I am not clearly well-rounded or well versed on, to write coherently or knowledgeably.

I’ve always been interested in Israel and Palestine. Our Jewish Community here in Montreal served my early sobriety solely. The Chabad organization does work all over the city for many people, I just happened to be one of those people.

During my studies I spent time at the Ghetto Shul at McGill during my Judaism studies. And I often said that if I would become anything other than a Christian, I would certainly be a Jew. Palestine is a new subject for me, since being introduced to that area by a friend who wrote a book on the subject, from a point of view we don’t hear about ever.

When I finished the book, all I could write about was what was in Ben’s book, by the words he wrote. Which began my reading slant into books that were written, on the ground, within the Palestinian community. There are not many in circulation, that don’t begin with a premise situated in Israel, and merely spits on Palestine.

I need to figure out what I know, what I need to know, and where I sit on the spectrum of politics and on the ground situations. I know where I would like to be, but that point needs to be plotted on a map so that I can see it clearly.

Israel and Palestine is such a deep topic with some serious history, people, and problems, that I am unable to touch because of the complexity of the state of that area of the world. But while in Ottawa, I picked up another tome that I am reading at the moment.

I just cannot read a handful of books and expect to be able to write anything that is worthy of print on this blog, because that would be stupid and green of me.

The entire Middle East is a quagmire of instability, political strife and religious intolerance. And we just cannot say, incendiary things about people we know little about or those points of views or lives that we don’t even care about informing ourselves about, because it is easier to hate outright, then find a point of agreement or understanding.

How many people do you know who really care about the Middle East beyond blanket hatred of those we don’t even know, or care to know ?

Because they are not “Christian?” or “Jewish?”

If we don’t read, or listen to other points of view and study areas of the world that interest us, and take the time to get informed, how can we relate what we are reading/studying?

That is a thing …

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Colorful Metaphors

Any Star Trek fan knows the line from Star Trek IV the Voyage Home, where Kirk and Spock are on a bus, and Spock relates his confusion of people’s use of “Colorful Metaphors.”

I don’t know if it is age, or my sensibilities to certain colorful metaphors and words, used by people I listen to, or something else, but I’ve grown weary of people using certain language.

Since the dawn of the Pod Cast, when I got my I Phone for Christmas, my nightly bed time schedule was shifted when I started listening to Pod Casts. They competed with my traditional book reading time before bed.

Over the past few months, I’ve listened to a number of Pod Cast presenters. And I’ve come to the point that the Ardent Screaming Host, or the host who litters his show with the word FUCK, every other word, I just delete their shows from my phone.

I love me some Bill Maher. But he is incessantly insane. And over the last month, I’ve also grown weary of him as well, because his devolution into insane screaming by the end of the hour podcast.

People who talk on the Pod Cast, are not bound by ethical language rules. Although many men and women, do take listeners into consideration when it comes to words. Others, not so much. I just don’t have the mental energy to listen to people swear and use foul language. It is just no longer appealing.

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Social Media

Over the last year, I have had to unfriend many people from my Face Book Profile. Certain friends litter my time line with shit I am not interested in, and they persist. Others, all they can do is post POST after POST of political bullshit, incessantly.

I went as far as to neuter my feed from showing me anything related to topics I have no interest in. That meant turning certain people off, for my own well being and sanity.

Aside from news online, that I do consume, Face Book and Twitter are two sources of news and current events that I utilize on a daily basis. But I don’t do either on my phone, so I deleted the apps from my phone.

  • I make phone calls on my phone.
  • I listen to music on my phone.
  • And I Pod Cast on my phone.

That’s it.

I am trying to set some news boundaries for myself. I have built a wall around me on social media that is useful, because I have a life, and I am not connected to social media 24/7. That is insane.

I turn on my computer when I wake up, I run my set. All those sites I look at and participate in and when I am done, I just shut off the computer until I need it again, and I go read, or better yet, I nap …

All the time…

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Sober Realizations

I wrote to a friend of mine recently …

I no longer have the desire to engage most people who believe so strongly what they do, contrary to any evidence of acceptance and respect of humanity in others. Religion, like politics, are two areas I intentionally stay away from, because I know who I am, and what I know, and that is good for me. Sobriety teaches me that I don’t always have to argue when it is not necessary to do so.

He replied that this portion of my comment is a post in itself.

I spend my days working with others. I spend a few nights a week in meetings. Only three meetings a week now, instead of my prior, six meetings a week, spread over two fellowships.

I love what I do. Because the men and women I work with are accountable. We are all moving forwards. And that is a really good thing. Because I am not a born leader, however I think I “could” lead. I’ve had time in the past where what I did and what I said meant something to those I spent time with.

You never know WHO you are going to meet or what conversation you are going to have with them, until the meeting happens, and conversations take place either before or after.

I want a clean break going into my fifties.

God has made that something that I work on daily. Recently, certain friends have gone dark, for one reason or another, that I am not understanding at the moment, but it is what it is.

I have a routine that works. I have a life that is fulfilling. I have friends whom I love and adore. And a best friend, second to none.

Discussion was brought up the other night, by someone I trust, when he asked me why I just did not adopt the baby, and give her a father, who wants to be in her life, and someone she can rely on, because I am reliable and accountable to her and Mama.

And my reply was this … I want the biological father to pay his dues like the law states. Because he is a dead beat and a looser. And I want him to pay up.

I don’t want to step in and absolve him of any responsibility towards the baby.

I need to research this before I head to New Foundland in April.

I think I know what I want of life and of myself. But that is subject to change because sobriety is not a one trick pony.

Shit happens. Life happens. And you never know what to expect when you walk into a room full of your friends and fellows.

You might just learn something you did not know, or realize something you had not before, and it wasn’t until that particular moment that God opened up your eyes and spirit. And you heard something you realized you really needed.

But did not realize you needed it until right then.

This is the filler that happened between the lines over the last little while.

Sobriety is Magic. Sobriety is Miracles. Sobriety is God, it is Us and it is We.

I love the “We” that I am part of today.