Year End Review 2018

Instead of writing an entire expose of the past year, I thought I would share the first thought that made it into print, the first entry of every month of 2018. A little retrospective, of course. Enjoy !!!

January 2018 …

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.

February 2018 …

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

March 2018 …

It has been a few days since my last update. It has been a busy time for everybody all around. We have a family wedding in May, it will be the first time, in many years that the entire family will be in the same location at the same time, to celebrate my niece Melissa and her husband to be, Stephan’s wedding.

We have watched our nieces and nephews grow up into fine young adults. And we spoil them whenever we get the chance. Holidays are always a big deal for our family. We will be traveling to Southern Ontario (on the train) a first for us.

In July, one of my guys, Juan is going to marry his fiancée Nadia, in a very intimate setting here in Montreal. We’ve been working very hard at keeping them “on the beam” so to speak. Juggling school, work, wedding preparations and life, is a tall order. But, like they say, “we have a program for that!”

April 1 2018 – Easter Sunday

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

John 20: 11-18

Now Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

May 2018 …

Two years ago, this very week, May 1st, 2016 to be exact, Fort McMurray, in Alberta, Western Canada was a tinder box, and went up in flames. We covered that tragedy here on the blog. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, thousands upon thousands of homes were burned to the ground.

But, resilient as people are, Fort McMurray is on the rebound as rebuilding has been going on since the all clear was sounded.

Seasonal changes have been occurring … This is fact.

Winters have been long and arduous. The snow pack is deep, again this year. Snow has been falling to the ground across Canada into the month of May this year. Here in Quebec, Winter went so long, we thought it would never end.

June 2018 …

Have you ever loved something so much, that you thought at one point, that you would do that thing for the rest of your life ? Climb the ladder of success, in a field/job, a sport, in music, or a trade ?

And what happens when you reach the point of success, let’s say, “going to an Olympics in Beijing as a Canadian athlete at the top of ones game.” And then having the tables turn on you, and that sport you loved, and gave it all of your heart and soul, and then that passion for the game DIES within, and alcohol becomes your best friend and companion.

July 2018 …

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 ???

August 2018 …

My birthday was the 31st of July. The morning of my birthday, when I got up and out of bed, I was still alive. I saw my doctor a couple of days before my birthday, and once again, I thanked him for keeping me alive another year.

This incarnation of my blog reached it’s First Anniversary. Thanks to cowards and their dishonesty. People would rather eat dirt, than be honest.

Without my doctor, where would I be right now ? I Don’t Know …

The people that mattered, celebrated my birthday, each in their own special ways.

September 2018 …

Summer is officially over. We did not Labor, over the Labor day weekend.

However good news did come.

October 2018 …

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond

Have you ever wondered, how did we get here? Where did we come from?  Why here and Why now? Why are some countries rich, and others poor? Why do human live where they live today, and where did the first peoples come from?

Being an avid reader poses challenges now and then. Picking up a substantive book, and reading it from cover to cover, requires time, treasure and commitment. I have several substantial books in my “read” library stack. It took me quite a while to consume Guns, Germs and Steel. Not only does this book require time and treasure, it demands of its reader, patience, understanding, and a desire to learn; something that I found, was enlightening and educational.

Jared Diamond begins some 13,000 years ago, when the world was first populated with hunter gatherers. The continents were finding their places, ice ages, came and went. And early humans, as archeologists have studied began to populate the earth. When oceans were shallower, and land bridges existed, in several locations on the earth, people moved here and there.

Indigenous peoples worldwide don’t garner very much respect from the conquering peoples who overtook them. There were multiple indigenous communities worldwide, before the proverbial “white man” came and either infected them with disease, enslaved them to serve, relegated them to reserves or killed them outright in wars and conquests.

This book is methodical in its approach to humanity. And in pain staking detail we learn what peoples lived in prehistory. We learn where they lived to begin with and where they moved, on the earth as time progresses.

We learn how advances in food production, disasters of germs and disease, and the advancing industrial revolution, where guns and steel overpower those who did not have them.

We learn that in historical times, conquest and war, dispensed with entire groups of people. You did not only get the peoples who took up conquest, but the people who suffered because of it. The people who were here, before we got here, grew into some, successful communities. In the end, those vibrant indigenous communities were laid wasted by diseases brought by the conquerors, and the wars perpetuated in the names of Kings, Queens or Country.

As the continents were solidified, where people lived either assisted their success or advanced their demise. Where you lived, in relation to the latitude of your environs, either helped you, or harmed you. The success of peoples, farming, livestock, and growth all depended greatly, on where you sat, on the earth, in terms of latitude and longitude.

The spread of all things necessary for life, worked well, in areas with an expansive East – West axes. Those countries with North – South, axes, did not fare so well, the population and spread of food, animals and technology flourished in the Eurasian, East West Expanse of location.

There is a direct correlation between the location of a people, and the environment they found themselves in. From the Equator, reaching either North or South, temperate regions flourished. Guns, Germs and Steel tells the story of how the world became what it has.

Time, Distance, Location and the problems associated with location either helped peoples grow and succeed, or they took much longer to achieve certain benchmarks in their human existence. All things moving East – West grew faster than those things moving North – South.

Time is measured in hundreds of years,  The movement of people, goods, animals, and agriculture took TIME. And it seems that in pre-history, time is a very important component in the building of peoples, world wide.

Jared Diamond spins a very intricate web of story telling about Time, Talent, and Treasure. How the world built itself, learned how to govern itself, farm the land, produce food, and be able to store that food over Time, and then industrialize, are very important factors in human existence.

Guns, Germs and Steel is not a simple story, it is complex on many levels and explains the difficulty early peoples faced, in maintaining a home, finding food to eat, and learning the hard way, especially, “what not to eat.”

Every continent on the earth has a particular Origin Story. Every peoples who populate the earth, where ever that may be, also have complex Origin Stories. This very complex but wonderful study of humanity is one of the best books I have ever read, on the subject of just How We Got Here !

How each continent and how each people on each continent arrived where they did, and prospered to the level they are at today is studied exhaustively in this text. The Origins of People, Language, Customs and Lives and how all these things moved from one area of the world to other areas of the world is fascinating.

No stone is left un-turned by page 444 …

Pulitzer Prize books must contain certain factors that I always look for, IF a particular book has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Because I have read a handful of winners, that turned out to be real losers.

Guns, Germs and Steel is a Winner !!!

Read This Book !

November 2018 …

I’ve been sitting on my thoughts over the last little while. Two things I try to avoid, discussion of Religion and politics. The world has so much going on, that I have opinions about, that sometimes, I think to myself, “why bother?”

December 2018 …

December 9th 2018 came and went without fanfare.

The phone only rang once all day. The Big Celebration will take place on Friday night, at our regular Friday Night meeting. It is our Anniversary Meeting/Christmas Party. And I will take my cake as well.

I’ve been trying to figure out where I sit in the grand scheme of things, a little drop in the Big Ocean of the Universe. I’ve not quite figured that out just yet, so I am still flying by the seat of my pants.

A while back I had a conversation with a friend who is at year seven in his transition, today. Back then, amid some strife in his life, I told him that “What people think of us is none of our business.”

Not long ago, while talking together he parroted back to me that phrase, but he could not place where he had originally heard it. And I said, “that was a sober thought, and it sounds like something I would have said to you in the past. So it went.

We talked about what he calls being “Emotionally Self Sufficient.” Not relying on others, judgments, critiques, support or not support for us, to dictate the men and women we become.

I don’t usually worry about what people think of me, on the whole. It used to bother me when people, in public would critique my outfits or judge me one way or another. I kind of grew out of that insanity. Albeit, the hard way.

It had to be purged amid a pass through my steps this past Fall.

The one thing that haunts me to this day is the nostalgic portion of my brain that gives credence to the thought that people would grow up and finally want to make peace, after a lifetime of vitriol and hatred. In the back of my head I believe that every human has One Redeeming Quality, that can overcome whatever hardness in their hearts, if only they would find it within themselves. Alas, that has not happened.

I really cannot stomach that there are people in my life who hate me and want nothing to do with me because I am Gay and that I chose to take hold of my life, and go my own way, and do my own thing, and I believe, I did a good job so far. Some people don’t get it, and fault me for leaving a nuclear unit to break out on my own. Let’s remember that these same people, pushed me away and out of that nuclear unit, because I was Gay.

So Fuck Me !

There are so many good things in my life today. Today was my Quit Day, smoking cigarettes. I’ve been on Chantix for more than a week now, and just crossed the second week dosing of higher doses of medication. Which has seriously curbed my desire to smoke. That is a thing.

Working with others has kept me busy and on point. Trying to be the best human I can, and teaching lessons to others, that I learned myself many, many years ago, today. Not too many people pay attention to my stories, but there are three men who will listen.

And when I say to them, TRUST ME … I know what I am talking about, because it comes from a place deep within my soul. From the man who saved my life, and said those words to me, when I needed to hear them, and I have survived more than twenty five years now.

Hindsight is truly a gift these days.

Christmas shopping is going on. I did the bulk of my shopping on Tuesday. I had to travel into the Village for some things. And the central village Metro Station is closed for renovations until next June 2019. So I had to figure out how to get out of our intermodal Berri Station, which houses several Metro lines on three levels, down into the ground. The main Montreal bus station and all associated towers and service offices. There are many ways out of the station, but if you take the wrong tower exit, you end up in a particularly “other” area of town that you actually wanted to end up in.

There is a little snow on the ground. It is unseasonably below average cold, but it should warm up into positive numbers come the weekend. Long range forecasts says that snow showers will fall on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are hosting a Christmas Dinner party for a friend, his wife and her mom. Their Second Christmas dinner here at our house.

It will be grand.

All in all life is good. I am still sober. And all is well.

We’re Always Making New Friends

Humboldt

It is almost 2 a.m. and I should be in bed. Have to be up at 7 a.m. for an 8 a.m. bus ride to the West Island in the morning. Today, A new friend and I made the trip out this afternoon. The island of Montreal is under severe construction, all the elevated highways have been knocked down, as they build new ones in their place.

If you have to travel East or West, by those very same highways, everybody is using surface streets to get around the detours. Imagine, buses, cars, and every other vehicle imaginable trying to navigate surface streets, not made for heavy traffic or multiple cars all at once.

The detour took us over an hour to navigate on a Saturday afternoon, but we made it to the community center with plenty of time before hand. We socialized and made new friends, or met friends that I see often, but not get to talk to on a deeper level, at meetings.

Not a whole lot of people from town were there today. But the numbers looked good in the “young people quotient.” There is a cross-section of folks from all over the island, with varying time of sobriety.

You know when you go to a sober gathering that you must carry several things in abundance. Munchies, Cigarettes, Kleenex, and Cash. Making new friends always entails being kind to them, from the get go. Because what you do for someone else when it matters, may impact them in ways you might not see right away. But a kindness given is a kindness received.

We got there early, and a handful of young people I know, from around town had shown up, which gives me time with each of them outside the purview of a meeting. The gatherings around the communal cigarette bin located outside the hall is the location where we network the best.

The one cigarette per person rule goes out the window. So I brought several packs with me just in case I needed them. And I did.

We heard two good shares. A young man, well, young in his forties, with 23 years sobriety, and our pinch hitter speaker this evening, an old-timer with more than 45 years of sobriety. Today’s contingent came from Toronto.

Many good things were shared. Two that come to mind at the moment are, our young man has a habit of opening meetings in his neighborhood, so that the meeting are all by his house. Because like he said to us … We Are Always Making New Friends.

Sober Folks are friends we just haven’t met yet.

Our Lady speaker talked about God. Coming from Humboldt Saskatchewan, nobody knew Humboldt until a few weeks ago, when the youth hockey team were involved in that tragic bus crash that killed so many young men and women in the bus.

She told us of the incalculable Power of Good. She might not know, at forty some odd years who God is, but she does know about the Power of Good.

We are all here for a purpose. We had to just get to hell, to find the direction into the Power of Good, to turn our lives around.

We laughed. We giggled. And we were sad, but then joy took over.

A good day was had by all. Tomorrow is a long haul day, with multiple speakers from all corners of the world, an ALA-Non Speaker, lunch and the afternoon filled with more to come.

Stay tuned…

Sunday Sundries: Weekend Wrap Up

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The CN Tower, looking towards from outside the Union Station Go Bus Platform.

After ten hours of travel today, we walked in the door to home at ten minutes to nine this evening. Today was a long travel day, and I was not sure if hubby would make it in one piece. It was touch and go, when we got to Toronto.

Our daily routine was thrown out of whack, our daily naps did not happen, and we were on the go for the entire weekend, after the nightmare beginning to the trip and the wind storm and blackout in Hamilton.

The wedding was beautiful. Seeing family was the best part. Being appreciated made it all worth it. However, like I said the other night, some people never change, and some people are just not happy at all.

But we connected with our younger nieces and nephew Adrian. We will have more game players to join us at the Board Game Cafe, when I go to visit my best friend next.

We departed Hamilton this morning at 10:15 a.m. We took the Go Bus to Toronto, because there was no Go Train service on Sunday. We were plainly tired. And the bus ride seemed much shorted than the commuter train on Friday evening. But traffic going into Toronto was a nightmare.

We drove past the lake front. It was beautiful. There was a Marathon being run on the lake front today. We did not get that far in our sightseeing.

We arrived at Union Station at noon, with three hours to kill. Since you cannot check luggage and leave it in a station, we had to drag the bags where ever we wanted to go.

Hubby was on thin ice emotionally. But he asked me what I wanted to do, and he walked with me to the CN Tower, which was not all that bad.

Toronto is a HUGE city. There is Concrete, Glass and Metal, as far as the eye can see. I mean every square block of downtown Toronto is BUILDINGS …. Yes, there is the water front property, but I imagine if you lived anywhere inside the downtown core, one must have to pay BIG BUCKS to live there.

I imagine the majority of people like us, could only afford to live in the suburbs and commute into the city for work and play. On Friday afternoon when we arrived in Toronto, Union Station was crawling with people.

Rush Hour Toronto is a nightmare.

Today, when we got to Union Station, the Go Platform was empty. I was having serious Deja Vu …

So we hoofed it from Union to the CN Tower. When we got there, I took some photos, and we started to go inside, but hubby vetoed that decision when the security agent told us it would cost nearly $80.00 CAD to go up the tower.

He was like NOPE … SEE YA !!!

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The Aquarium just outside the CN Tower. And the Roger’s Center.

I took a few more photos, and we cabbed it back to Union Station, where we had lunch, albeit we spent almost $60.00 on lunch because it was a restaurant IN Union Station and not a cheap dive above ground.

I have to say that if you have to travel a fair distance and you don’t need to fly, and you have time to waste, VIA RAIL is a great choice. The trains are clean, well-appointed. the seats are comfortable and the views on our trip out and back were stunning.

I take a bus to Ottawa, because the bus station is only 5 blocks from my best friends apartment on Bank Street, an easy walk from the Ottawa bus station.

We’ve never traveled on VIA RAIL before, and we were pleased very much with the train ride out and back. It was five hours to and five hours back from Toronto.

Our final word on Toronto was … Not our cup of tea. Hubby really does not like Toronto at all. I think if we were there with a place to stay in the downtown core, and no luggage to drag around and more time, and some ample rest before hand, we could have had a better time of it, than we did today.

We love Montreal. Our city has chic. And it has a style that Toronto does not. Montreal is NOT ALL Concrete, Glass and Metal. We got to see night-time views of downtown from the Via Rail on the way in that we had never seen before.

Makes us appreciate our beautiful city all the more.

Thursday: Drink Your Way Across Europe

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It was a beautiful day today. I did some shopping early on, and hosted one of my guys for another week of Big Book reading, (Read: Booking). I opened and set up the meeting, since many of our folks are away for a few weeks, so we are low on workers for the next month, it is all hands on deck.

We are sitting at the beginning of two weeks of National Holidays, First, here in Quebec, the St. Jean Baptiste Holiday, (For you Separatists out there) not that I have many Francophone readers, or that I am that political to tell you what I think about “Separatist Politics.”

Next weekend is Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebrations countrywide. Canada Day on July 1st, will be the BIGGEST celebration Canada has ever seen. Montreal celebrates 375 years of existence.

Needless to say, Our Provincial and City Governments have gone to great lengths to beautify the city. Millions upon Millions of dollars have been spent to bring Montreal up to speed for our tourists and to get the people on the ground excited to be living in such a wonderful city that IS Montreal.

Who am I to complain …

We who live here want to know WHY they spent so much money on shit we really did not need, while millions go without. We need so many things for our people, that we are not getting, even though the government seems to have deep pockets to spend on rock stumps on the mountain, and electrifying the Jacques Cartier Bridge for the world to see on NEWS CAMS all around the city pointed at the bridge at night.

People need healthcare. So many people need clean water, and homes that are not mold ridden and Indigenous people who live off island REALLY need lives, better lives at that. We need food on our tables, child care, medical assistance, homes, clean water, like I said, there are too many Canadians going without, while the government spend a shit ton of money on beautiful …

WHY ???

Anyways, back to this evening.

Our speaker, a young lady friend of one of our men got up and spoke. We clicked right away. I know her, because I know her boyfriend. They are sober together.

She worked in Travel for a few years. I did myself as well. While I was still drinking too.

We got to compare notes on all the sick ways we used to travel.

READ: Drink Your Way Across Europe.

Nothing was more fun, than on a Friday afternoon, getting on a plane, (in my office we ALWAYS flew First Class) because we could. Free Passes were always a nice perk.

San Francisco, New York, Chicago, London, Paris, or Rio …

The fun started before the plane even took off in those days.

She asked me if I remember any of my trips. I do actually.

I did some serious drinking in my young life. You’d imagine that I was pretty pickled before I hit the ripe age of twenty, seeing how much liquor I could put away.

I am amazed to some degree that I survived those years.

I know, for sure, that I was Stone Cold Sober, when I went to see the Vatican. Because I climbed all those stairs up inside the Cuppola to the roof of St. Peter’s to see St. Peter’s Square from that high up and the Vatican Gardens below.

I drank SO MUCH in Munich that I put a public tour bus out of commission because I was so sick inside that bus on the way back to the city, that I ended up on the pavement, and the bus went in for a deep cleaning and never went back into service.

UGH …

Not A Pretty Drunk at all. Not the most famous memory, but a memory nonetheless.

A good night was had by all.

Thursday: I’m Going to New Foundland !

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I am seriously hoping for Icebergs …

This is the year, we all make serious strides in life. The Promises have materialized for many people, all at the same time. I helped to keep my friends “on the beam” while we traveled through “Ambiguity.” Tonight, I can say that we’ve all crossed a new threshold in sobriety, across the board.

Today I did something I have never done before. I booked a ticket to St. John’s New Foundland for Easter weekend. Traveling to St. John’s is not cheap, but since we crossed another threshold at home, I was able to make good on my relationship with Mama and Lu.

I had schemed in my head, what I really wanted to do for this trip. I was not going to tell anyone I was making the trip, and wait until the week “OF” to tell mom that I was coming and not to tell Mama.

Hubby said to me that might not be a good idea, so I slept on it over night, and this morning I called mom to tell her what I was planning to do, and she told me that I should call Mama and tell her.

I waited all day to make one phone call …

I leave on the 13th of April, and spend 4 days in St. John’s and I return on the 17th. This is the farthest East I have traveled in Canada. In my first year sober, we took a road trip to Halifax, driving the 18 hours each way. This time I am doing it right.

Almost three years ago, I made a decision to invest in Mama and Lu, before Lu even entered the world. It all began with a single phone call. My relationship with Mama and Lu is the most important relationship I have with any of my friends, because Lu is part of my life.

Lu’s biological father wanted Mama to abort Lu when she was pregnant and to this day wants nothing to do with Lu at all. He’s just a big horses ass. Who takes no responsibility for the fact that he fathered a child, and is out of sight and out of mind ever since Lu was born. Aside from Grand pa, I am the only OTHER MAN in her life today.

I helped raise Lu for the first two years of her life while they lived here, but like all good things, they come to an end, and mama returned to family in New Foundland.

I may not be her biological father, but I am part of her daily life. I participate in the parenting process from far away, on a daily basis. And not long ago, I was on the phone with Lu and she tossed another new word at me … She calls me Daddy …

I remember the night she said my name for the first time. Now I have a new day to remember, the day she started calling me Daddy.

I sent Christmas to St. John’s in December. I am bringing Easter with me in April.

Sobriety gives us so many good things once we put down the drink (and the drugs).

Many people think, when they finally stop that life is going to end if they cannot drink and party like they used to and that sobriety is going to be absolutely BORING !!!

I can tell you, categorically, that that is NOT the case at all.

Our speaker tonight tells the story about socializing with old friends (today) in sobriety. She might be sober and does not drink, her friends though, can’t drink like they used to because they are much older, and CANNOT BOUNCE BACK LIKE THEY USED TO …

Life gets real, when we start to age …

I don’t think I would have made it to this point, had I kept drinking.

I am very happy for my guys and their gals.

One couple has crossed the Financial Insecurity Promise. The other couple, we are planning a wedding and costing a honeymoon for next Spring. And we are all working together, soberly.

And it is freaking AMAZING !

If your sobriety isn’t exciting, and life changing, what do you need to do to Step up your game ?

It is all about how you play your game.