Happy Birthday Harry

Noah Levy, my friend Carmi’s son

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

Today we are in good company.

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

Hormonal

For a little while now, I have not been feeling myself. And I knew something was wrong some time ago. And I spoke about being a little on edge and moody the other night.

Yesterday I went to my first summer doctors appointment with my Diabetes doctor, Doctor Vanessa. She was glad to see me. We spoke a bit about what happened after my body burned from the inside out and how I’ve never felt pain like that before, especially, for where the pain was …

Men are not supposed to burn like fire in their genitals. But that’s what you get when you fail a Diabetes drug miserably.

She looked at my labs and asked if I was feeling a bit off and moody. And I was like, “Well YEAH!” Actually.

Seems at the tender age of fifty two, in a few days, my hormones have been MOANING ! All of my numbers were low. My testosterone and my other important hormone numbers. She said that was odd for me, since I have not bottomed out hormonally before.

Ageing with HIV at 25 years later, and Diabetic as well, I am in a new bracket of research, because I have survived so long,

(read: I did not die).

So doctors are treading new ground with me because nobody knows what my body is going to do now, now that I’ve hit the opening decade of Fifty. This is new territory for all of us.

We are learning on the FLY.

Some time ago, I read a book on Ageing with HIV, but I had not quite hit the target age group yet of fifty. I got the book a couple of years ago, because another friend in the states read it first. Mark is a few years older than me and longer on the survival line.

Now, in a few weeks I have to go for a full Hormone Research Blood Panel. She is going to check my brain chemistry and get a full hormone work up and some vital internal organ test numbers to make sure there is nothing going on with my organs, if my hormones are off by that much, they would affect organ output and hormone generation in my body.

HIV at Fifty Two surviving more than twenty five years is new territory for medical research, since I am in a generation that really did not make it. Out of the entire grouping of over 600 men, Mark and Myself were the only two survivors from that period of time.

I see my HIV doc next month on August 15th. He should be able to give me more information, since he is one of the best HIV docs in Canada.

I am very lucky and grateful.

More to come.

Stay tuned.

Is There A God ?

I don’t know whether you, my readers, believe in God. That’s not for me to know, or concern myself with. What you believe is entirely up to you.

For me, God has been a constant in my life, from my earliest memories. And I followed him religiously for a few years, even ending up in Seminary to follow Him. All for naught !

He has been constant in my life, even when I chose to ignore him. Taking paths, I knew were wrong, making decisions that were also wrong, and almost dying in the process, to feed my own ego and selfishness.

He was there. Just waiting for me to turn my will over.

Tonight, we talked about Step Eleven.

SOUGHT THROUGH PRAYER AND MEDITATION, TO IMPROVE OUR CONSCIOUS CONTACT WITH GOD AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM, PRAYING ONLY FOR KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL FOR US AND THE POWER TO CARRY THAT OUT.

Over the last eighteen years, I’ve witnessed countless men and women battle the word God. People from religious backgrounds, Jews, Christians, Muslims, you name it. I’ve seen it, in the rooms.

The shares went around the room, and NOT ONE person, said the word Thank You or uttered the word Gratitude.

When it got to me, I said one sentence.

IF YOU WOKE UP THIS MORNING, THERE IS A GOD …

When I got deathly sick, AND, I was going to surely die, God was the last thought on my mind. I was too consumed with dying, to think about anything else.

Todd, had other plans for me.

He gave me latitude to work it out. He gave me a framework to survive. He taught me lessons, mere mortals on this earth, have ever learned, or will ever learn.

I have mad skills in the area of coping and sobriety, taught directly from the Mind of God. Voiced by Todd.

I will tell you, I met God. I know His voice. He saved my life.

For many weeks and months as I waited for the day to come, that I was supposed to be dead, arrive, then more days came after that, AND I was still alive, Todd – Read God’s words rang true to me.

I turned my will and my life over to Todd, as I understood him, improving my conscious contact and learning what God’s will for me really was.

I did not die.

I am still alive.

What was all this for ?

Mortals don’t know gratitude if it snuck up behind them and bit them in the ass.

We are all going to die one day. Mortals don’t worry about dying, until they know for sure the end is nigh… Then they pray … But not before.

People are too busy to think about Please and Thank you.

I learned long ago to say Thank you.

Old timers, really GOOD old timers tell you that before you roll out of bed, the first words out of your mouth, IF you woke up that morning, are:

THANK YOU.

The second thing you do, AS you roll out of bed, is to hit your knees and pray. The third thing you do, after you pray, is to Make Your Bed.

Right Away.

Not one person said the word thank you, even the old timers sitting in the circle, did not say those words.

I don’t know why I am still alive. And what I am supposed to be doing here. But I pray. I talk to God. The one way conversation people talk about.

The Vertical Conversation.

Then I sit and I wait. And I listen. Meditation.

If the answer does not come directly from God, via intuition, I know I have to go out and seek the answer among my friends.

The Horizontal Conversation.

But my ears must be tuned to hear what ever it is God is going to say to me, and let me tell you, that took a lotta practice and a lotta time too.

If you ask the right question in prayer, and you need to seek the answer out, then you know, you must actively listen to your friends.

ACTIVELY LISTENING is the key.

This is my nightly meditation, to come here and reflect on my day, and write it all down, when necessary. Because I will forget by morning.

If you woke up this morning, There Is A God …

Thankfully, I am not God,
and my navel is not the center of the universe.

Thank God for small mercies.

And Lots of Gratitude.

December 1st: World AIDS Day 2017

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It IS December 1st, in Montreal, at this hour.

On July 8th, 1994, at 12:00 noon exactly, a doctor entered my exam room, sat down, and said these words to me …

“No Better time than the present. Jeremy, You have AIDS, you are going to die. Go Home, Get your affairs in order, time is of the essence.” I thanked him for the information, he gave me five minutes to collect myself, and leave the office.

I went outside, because my friend Ken, the clinic nurse, was nowhere to be found inside. As I looked down at the car, he was sitting on the hood of my car waiting for me. He, in fact, knew, what the doctor knew.

I approached him tentatively and he opened his arms and folded me into them, as HE wept for me. He was the nurse, who cared for all the sick, in the bar we worked at, after hours, for FREE. We saw hundreds to their deaths over those two years.

Now I was one of those men who were going to die.

I’ve shared this entire story with you back in July, as it happened in real-time.

I called my folks, after my boyfriend left me, my friends all bolted for the doors, and could not run away fast enough. I called Todd and his hubby in Provincetown to come home immediately. They did come home, immediately.

I remember meeting Todd at the bar, a couple of days later. We were sitting alone together on the stage, on the main dance floor. I told him that I was sick, and that I was going to die.

Todd Wept…

He took on, taking care of me, because in the end, everyone else had fled. It was too much to bear for any of my fellows AND my family. I had lost everybody.

Todd crafted a plan of action. He chose to save me, when he could have easily walked away, but he did no such thing. Everybody working in the bar was sick, in one way or another.

It was me he chose to focus on.

Hindsight does show me that, in Spiritual terms, Heavenly Father had stepped out of His heaven and walked with me, in real-time, for the whole of Todd’s and my relationship.

Todd saved my life.

Bob was buried in the cemetery across the street from the bar, directly. Todd had lost already, and he knew the drill. After attempting to kill myself a few week later, Todd was at the COPA with my friend Danny and the paramedics, as they revived me from an alcoholic stupor and alcohol poisoning.

Danny took me home and stayed in my apartment for a week, on suicide watch, on Todd’s orders. The following week, I went back to work. I had also gone to my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Todd told me that I would get sober, if it killed me, and it almost did, seeing that many of the men in that sober room, were not very sober. As they bet on me like a race horse, waiting for me to go back out and drink again.

Thankfully, Todd’s lover, Roy, was a year sober then, worked at the bar, had a Big Book on his cash register, that we read together. Because for the year prior, while that Big Book was on that register, I asked him, what that Big Book said, because it said BIG BOOK on the front.

His response was always the same:

When you need to know what it says, I will tell you. That took a year to get there.

I did stay sober that first year, despite the assholes who hounded me for a year. I stayed sober another year, and then a third year. At the end of year two, Todd moved to San Francisco, with the entire bar staff.

I was too young to go. Too sick to travel. And in my sick, and deluded fantasies, of my father dying and my eventual moving to be with my mother for the rest of my life, never happened.

I lost my Mother and my Father.

To this very day they still believe, and have said repeatedly that:

I was a MISTAKE and should never have been born.

On July 31st, 2017 – I turned FIFTY years old. I am still alive.

Because of God’s good grace and Todd’s intervention.

When all else failed, ONE human being walked into my life and affected change that changed my life in ways I could never repay. I cannot tell you the price Todd paid in caring for me, personally, and what my illness did to him, because he never batted an eye for one day or even one night.

His love never wavered. His Words were Gospel. His cup overflowed every day that I remained alive, under his watch.

YOU never know when YOU may save a life, in being there for another human being.

AIDS is still a disease that kills. Not like it killed indiscriminately, back in the day, because there were no drugs to come by, or speak of. No doctors to take care of us. Only a woefully prepared group of physicians in MOON SUITS, who did not know their asses from a hole in the ground.

It was total MAYHEM and FEAR, unlike any fear I had ever seen.

My friends suffered terribly. Doctors treated them indignantly and in death they all died alone, save myself, Ken and a few others who sat death watch for over 100 men who died on our watches.

I skated by, by the grace of God, and Marie Wansiki, who ran the local 411 Drug Farm, Health Link, they collected drugs from dead men’s medicine cabinets. Repackaged them and gave them to us for free. That was the beginning.

In year two, was when I met my first real AIDS doctor, who set out to continue to save my life. And get me drugs that did the job quite well.

In 2002, Eight years later, I landed in Montreal, and found the doctor I have today. He treated patent ZERO. He maintains my care to this day. For all the years that followed, my agreement with my doctor is this: He gives me new drugs that our medical GROUP test among ourselves, if they work, they go to the government for national and international dissemination world-wide.

I am still alive – At fifty years of age. And almost Twenty Five years from Diagnosis.

I did DRINK and USE again, in year FOUR the first time around. I returned to Alcoholics Anonymous on December 9th, 2001.

In just a little while from now, on December 9th 2017, by the Grace of Heavenly Father, I will reach SIXTEEN YEARS Clean and Sober.

Today we stop to remember. So many died. Horribly. Undignified. Alone. Family less, friend-less, lover-less.

I will never forget the debts that I owe Todd and Ken.

I will forever be grateful for my life, because without Todd, read GOD, I would certainly have died a very long time ago.

Remember them.

Friday : You’re a Douche bag !!!

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Today we talked about the survival of the fellowship.

Clearly, our first duty to A.A.’s future is to maintain in full strength what we now have. Only the most vigilant care taking can assure this. Never should we be lulled into complacent self-satisfaction by the wide acclaim and success that are everywhere ours. This is the subtle temptation which could render us stagnant today, perchance disintegrate us tomorrow. We have always rallied to meet and transcend failure and crisis. Problems have been our stimulants. How well, though, shall we be able to meet the problems of success ?

I wonder out loud, quite often, to my friends that, “Is anybody listening ?” Are people really that stupid ? Does anyone take into consideration that the words we speak really do matter, and that if you follow these very simple suggestions,

“You won’t have to drink today !!!”

I don’t know what more I can do for the men and women I work with, then to continue repeating the same refrains to them, because, right now, they are not listening.

Yet my phone rings daily, with the drama of the day …

It is beginning to wear thin, on my very last good nerve.

Conflict is something that happens in the rooms. I know, from conflicts past, that if conflict happens, that I just keep my mouth shut, walk away, find a meeting to do service in, and wait for God to work His miracles, in the universe.

Recently, God has been bringing the douche bags into the Friday meeting, one by one.

I talked last night about saying words, that may well fall on deaf ears. I talked about letting people slide, when they piss us off, or do something stupid.

All day, the rat has been on his wheel in my head, thoughts about people, places and things, that really have no bearing on my life today. I am going to be in the hot seat next week, and I’ve been working on my script … Yes I use a script, because my memory is not what it used to be, and the last time I spoke it was a HUGE shit show. And I am not going to stand up in front of my home group next Thursday and be a douche bag myself.

I wanted to nap for a few hours and my brain was on overdrive, and that fucked up the entire day. I took a shower and headed out to do set up. When I finished, I called my sponsor and told him I was in the weeds. I only asked him to work with me last week, so the ground rules have not been spoken, and we need to do that and talk about next Thursday while we are at it.

He does not agree with me on a script. That’s ok. I’m not going to get up there and fuck it up for sure, in any case.

I talked tonight about degrees of separation.

The people in the rooms, are in our lives, in degrees of separation. The closer you are to me, the more likely I am to tell you when Yes, You Are A Douche Bag.

The further away you are from me, I will let you slide. There are people who rub me like spiritual sand paper. They can go fuck themselves. I already know You Are A Douche Bag, and I want nothing to do with you.

On the way home, I was talking to a friend about negativity and people who have no bearing on our lives today. And he asked how did I cope with assholes and elbows ?

It has taken the whole of my sobriety to figure out how to let go of people who are assholes, namely family, who are total Douche Bags. The less time I spend thinking about them the better. I used to ruminate at great lengths the depth of pain these people HAD caused me in the past, and I used to allow that pain to infect my daily life, for a long time.

Bob calls this the hostage theory … His theory was that he was adopted. Then he used to use Well, I’m Gay … It was one thing after another.

I don’t have any more hostage stories to tell. And nobody wants to hear them either. I don’t want to listen to myself, dredge up all that old bitter shit …

Ugh, the drama of it all.

The less time and personal emotional power I spend carrying people, places and things that have no impact on my life today, the better.

If we carry around all that shit baggage, and we spend hours upon hours of our days and nights ruminating over that shit, that’s a lot of personal mental energy spent WASTED.

Do you know how long it took me to get that ? Having heard Bob talk about this more than five years ago ? And I listen to him often, because he’s on my pod cast player.

UGH… I’m so tired.

I hate sitting in a meeting knowing one of my former douche bag sponsees is sitting in the room trying to ignore me and not talk to me. But he came with a friend, who I haven’t talked to in seven months, who rang my phone at 11:30 last night.

Oh, Hi, How are you ? It’s been so long, we need to catch up. What have you been up to ? I wanted you to know I started going to other meetings. He came to Friday meeting last week, because my best friend took his five-year chip.

I gave him that piece of advice – going to other meetings, more than ten months ago, and he finally got around to making that work.

Douche Bag !

Working to stay sober. I’ve done what I’ve always done, when conflict happens. I shut my mouth, I walk away, I find another meeting, and I do service.

I don’t get it that people who know me, for more than a few years, seem to think, that keeping it simple is such hard work !

I’ve done the same thing I was told to do when I came in. I took to heart every piece of advice given to me, and I still do those things today, like clockwork.

My life is built around my meetings and doing service.

How difficult is that ?

Not Very.

Yet, there are a handful of friends, who did not heed that advice, and over the past seven months, have gone back out and drank again, and used again. One of my friends took a chip tonight, and he just does not get it.

It’s not complicated.

Pick up the phone, talk to someone, get to a meeting, do some freaking service for God’s sake. It’s not complicated.

Obviously, people are not listening to anything lately.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

You’re a Douche Bag …

Monday – Give Back Unconditionally

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What to do with the new year ? What do I do with myself ? Where am I going with this blog? I’ve been writing here for more than a decade now. Almost 12 years.

Many things have come and gone. If you told me, when I first got sober, this time around, what this life would have looked like, I would have laughed at you.

But I do know this one thing is true … The day I set foot in this apartment we still live in today, I was on my way into a life that I never imagined.

I have friends, gay friends, who love men who lived through AIDS, and are still alive. I have friends who stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park when it came to us.

Those of us who made it out alive.

Let’s just say, that I have seen a great many things over the last twenty-two years of staying alive. I see now, how every human being I knew, played a decisive role in my life that helped me to survive the horrors of a deadly disease.

Our marriage, has been a series of trials and errors. Even before we got married, we were tested through several harsh trials and errors. Practice, I call it, for the vows that we speak when we get married. Practicing non negotiables, and how to get through them.

I have a life. I have an education. I have sobriety. I have a husband. I have good friends. There is money in the bank. We have heat. Food in the fridge. Clothes in the closet.

The world has changed over the last 50 years. Well, almost 50 years for me. I did not follow the cookie cutter cycle of life choices. I took the more, harder, longer, beg, borrow, and cheat path. I thought that if I struck out on my own, on my own capacity that I would finally arrive.

That did not work. I never arrived …

God has a funny sense of humor. He never ceases to amaze me, in what He can do, when I get out-of-the-way. Over the last year, handfuls of people came into, and departed from my life.

I spent SO MUCH TIME investing in communities, and people, who, in the end, did not care one iota, in giving back, or investing in me. Now I see, where my time is best spent.

Friday afternoon I got a phone call from a friend. One I care a great deal for. Who, had to journey on his Odyssey only to return full circle, back where he started.

Drugs and Alcohol are very patient and very cunning.

Even though, over the years, I have watched my friends, and I watched them make not so good choices, and end up in a black hole, after I warned them to NOT DO THAT…

They did it anyway. And did not listen to one word I said. How many people, in the last six months have I seen fuck off and turn their backs on themselves and us ?

Too many to count.

Today, I sat with a friend for the first time in almost a year. He returned from his Odyssey, a little worse for wear, but he is still alive, barely …

This year, I am pulling back my time, talent and treasure. I will not offer those things freely, any longer. I will not put my life on the line for everyone. I have curtailed my meetings. I have set a course to hit meetings, with good people.

I invest in my meetings, and those people who come to those meetings. I have long time friends who know me in each of them. I have a solid bank of people, whom, if I needed them at 3 a.m. I could call any one of them.

I know what circle I will invest my time, talent and treasure.

I have some basic rules that I live by. Values, Morals, and Codes.

I have friends. They exist in concentric circles around me, based on how well I know them, how well I trust them, and what they can give me. This is not a selfish “give me,” but more in the sense of, most of my friends have expertise in one area or another. They do certain work in the community, and we all serve certain purposes in each others lives.

I try, the best way I know how, to give back to my friends. I will never turn my back on a friend. Because that is low down and dirty. You don’t back stab your friends.

I learned a long time ago, from Todd, how to give back. I learned how to care for human beings, on a Macro and a Micro scale. You don’t walk away from people.

Yet, in the past year, how many people walked away from me ??? And how many people, it turned out, were dishonest, and untrue and hateful ? How many times did I have to get my heart-broken in the last year, before I learned the valuable lesson that

NOT EVERYONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT YOU … Even if you wish they had. Not everybody has the capacity to be like us … To give a shit, to bend over backwards to be of service, only to finally see, just how little some people think about us or about our feelings.

Find your passion, DO IT, money will follow …

I used to believe in these words. I thought that, after I finally decided to grow up and do the right thing, and follow the logical life path, of any right-minded human being, that life would pay out financially.

Well, it paid out, just not in the way that mere mortals get/make money.

When People were diagnosed with AIDS, back in the day, to get something out of life, many thousands of people, sold their life insurance policies for cash, while they were still alive. That money did not go very far, when we had to pay out-of-pocket for meds that were not covered by insurance, because there was no insurance to speak of.

I had to practically kill myself, and set myself on death’s door step to get government help. Help that today, pays the rent here. If I did not have that specific help, we would not be where we are today.

Fifteen years ago, I began this journey again. And dammit I was going to make it this time, come hell or high water. Unlike many of my friends, who cannot be bothered to do what they are told, I did everything that I was told to do, and then some…

If Todd taught me one thing, it was Follow The Directions Given …

When I went back to school it was my choice. And I attacked my education with every ounce of energy I had. History has shown us, just how much we pay out in blood, sweat and tears, for a Degree, a Masters, and then a PhD, only to have the doors to the future, slammed in our faces, and all that work goes into the crapper FOREVER.

How many people do I know who did the education route, all the way up the food chain, get university jobs, never make tenure, then get fired because their jobs become obsolete, and they are replaced with Yes men and women, and we got the shaft !!!

Today, young people all over the world ask the eternal question, Should I go to University, and if I do, where is that going to take me ? Those answers are not so set in stone any longer.

People are trying to find their way into life, marriage, kids, a house and a mortgage, and a job that will pay the bills. And how many people, world-wide, work 9 to 5 jobs, making barely enough to pay the bills, and have money left over to buy food for their families ?

Jobs that just pay the bills, a cubicle job, that holds no passion or upward mobility. Jobs where people just punch a clock for that meager paycheck.

So many are starving for a life, that is more than just punching a clock. Money makes the world go round, and following your passion, will not necessarily put food on the table.

You’d need a really good gig, (read: Your passion) that would make enough money to make it profitable and workable. But the world, based on money, is never kind to those who would turn their noses up to a 9 to 5 gig.

There is so much inequality here when it comes to financial stability. Do you know that there are populations of people, here in First World Canada, that cannot take care of their families needs because they are paying out 150% of their pay into bills. People are going without heat and safety, because they have to choose between buying food to feed their kids, and paying out a shit ton of money for Hydro (Read: Electricity).

There are the very rich. There are the middle rich. There is the middle class. There are those who can barely make it from paycheck to paycheck. Then there are those who live in First World Canada, who live in Third World Conditions, the disparity is glaring …

The disparity between those who have, and those who have not is getting closer together.And the disparity between First World Canada, and Third World Canada is horribly wide.

I believe that if we as a nation, took all the money we spend elsewhere, giving to every charity known to man, and giving hand over fist, millions of dollars in aid to others, and for natural disasters, if we spent that money in building a better Canada, the disparities would vanish. Communities would be built, and the nations would come together and nobody would go without basic means for survival.

I’ve learned, in all the years, that I have lived in Canada, is that, yes, life is better than I would have ever imagined it would be, knowing how poor an existence I was living in the United States.

  • Life is very different here.
  • Truth is very different here.
  • I am very different here.

Canada has its issues. Just like any other country around the world. But we don’t have half the problems you do, South of the Border.

Let me tell you …

I have a lot to say about the ILLEGITIMATE man taking office on Friday.

Nobody wants to hear what I have to say on that matter though. But I will say this:

All those people, who believe in their bibles and theology, and nothing else, those of you who voted in HUGE numbers for a man who is incapable of being president, are in for a huge rude awakening.

Pandora’s Box is open. And the Monster is approaching. And mark my words,

Those who think they know God and speak for God, will very soon, come to the realization that they made a huge mistake, and they will call out the name of God.

And God will turn around and say to them …

YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME, BUT YOU DON’T …