Friday … Let’s Talk About Sex

tumblr_m1x5tpsILv1qmi5uao1_500 alexander

Canada is about to write off Winter … The balmy temps, the lack of snow, the rivers that did not freeze, the ice rinks that are useless right now, are all playing into Winter misery for Canada as a whole. But the TV people tell us that next week, temps are going to plummet. Mid Week next week we will hit substantial negative temps for the first time in weeks.

It was a usual Friday, that kind of sorted itself into a theme of sorts. I read the Big Book with one of my guys earlier today, we are working the book again, so that he can work it with one of his guys. We covered Step four, and the reading we did this afternoon came up again, in the meeting this evening.

Instincts, Society, and Sex …

People tend to clam up when these topics come up, because it is personal to many sensibilities. Tonight we heard candor, honesty, and truth.

And tonight, I wasn’t the only fruit in the basket, but my story is harsh, brutally honest, disgustingly sad, and totally, 100% mine.

When I did my Fourth Step, my sponsor ignored my sex inventory. Not sure if that was a good thing or not, this time around. And I don’t talk about it to anyone else, except one person, my best friend.

Tonights reading talks about instincts and what we are God given to survive in this world, and then create society. It closes with mention of our sexual natures as being something given by God, to be used correctly and wisely.

Sex is a taboo topic usually. Nobody wants to air their dirty laundry, but when we hit our steps, the main idea is to be rigorously honest. But this is usually not the case, the first few times around. Because, really, who wants to talk about the dark and desperate things we did when we were drunk and high?

It is fact that when I came out, my shrink told me to go to the bar, have a couple of drinks, and see what happened. He said the only way into the Gay community was going to be through a bar, and the associated alcohol.

And where do all young gay boys go who live in Florida go for their Coming Out Experience, but Orlando and the Parliament House. And where do we work? At the most Magical Place in the World, the Tragic Queendom.

The alcohol was good. The drugs were even better. And for every human being in my very wide social circle, sex was the main course, after the appetizer of alcohol.

I was caught up in a world that was amazing, cruel, beautiful, and ugly, all at the same time. I never knew backstabbing could be an Olympic Event.

My twenties was a blur of drugs and alcohol. And that posed a serious problem for me, but nobody clued me in to that at any point. That was part and parcel of who we were and where we lived, worked and partied.

I was great at never staying in one place. And I, like many people in the rooms, suffered from loneliness, and the “Hole in the Soul.”

Then in sobriety we have to look at those times when we were Selfish, Self Centered, Self Seeking and Dishonest and Fearful…

Young and Beautiful got you only so far, to close the deal, that required the right amount of drugs and alcohol.

In the end, this deadly mix, was my own undoing. Here is where my story deviates from the norm, and falls into the pit of hell, misery and death.

It took a long time to recover this specific memory. I know where I was, what I did and with whom. A fatal decision that almost cost me my life. In those days, it did cost me my life, the life I thought I had.

Falling in Love and breaking up is a universal story across orientation lines.

Nothing compares to having to tell the boy you are dating, and are in love with, that you are sick, and going to die, then watch him pack his things leave and never return.

What follows is unthinkable but was very real. Everybody walked away. Family, Friends, Lovers, you name it.

I went from Hero to Zero in a matter of hours. The distance between feast and famine are very slim, when it comes to AIDS.

We bemoan being alone these days, nobody really wants to be alone. We all need to be loved and to love. When everybody in your life walks away, all you have left is you. There is no other choice.

Thank God for Todd.

This was the harshest lesson I ever had to learn, to see the true nature of human beings at their worst, in the face of death and destruction. In mere days, hours and minutes, I witnessed human being turn, from human to animal, and watched them do things to other human beings that were unconscionable.

And Unforgiveable…

I would not know love for a very long time. I would suffer the slings and arrows of the hole in my soul, and the need to be loved at any cost; secrets, lies, geographics, drugs and alcohol.

Another deadly combination.

It was in sobriety that I learned how to be alone, and be ok with it. I was done fucking with my life, I was ready to grow up, and I did everything that I was told to do, even if I really did not want to listen, because my life depended on it.

I learned good values and good morals. I learned how to be part of society and build my life from the ground up. I had love in my life, albeit from an odd source, but it was there for a while.

Then an ego showed up and wrecked the fine balance of sobriety between us.

And on that fateful day, in St. Leon’s Church basement, love walked through the door. And I knew, in my heart, that hubby was it.

I would never be alone, ever again. Love came. Not without trial and tribulation. God tested the bonds and the vows well before we hit the church, and well before I popped the question.

There are five non-negotiables:

  • Money
  • Sex
  • Infidelity
  • Alcohol and
  • Drugs

For most people, but most notably for the gays, if one part of this equation is lost, then one becomes unloveable, leaving is all but certain. This was very true, very early in my young life.

Last night we heard a man tell his story, in vivid detail, about the man he was when he drank, and what he did, and where that got him. And he spoke in front of his wife and a room full of sober folks.

How many of us identified with his descriptions, feelings and shortcomings.

Selfish, Self Centered, Self Seeking, Dishonest and Fearful … These questions appear over and over in the book. The important inventory duties we have to do OFTEN in sobriety IS a must.

The past is the past. I am sober for today. And there is love in my life.

I am very grateful for small mercies and God’s grace.

Another day in the books. Goodnight.

 

Saturday – August 1st, The Writing Process Round Three

the blue moon rafaRafa’s Blue Moon – Friday July 31st 2015

This is the park we were standing in late last night on the way home, and Rafa clicked this photograph with his phone. It has been filtered and treated to get to this image.

It is exactly what we saw in real time.

I met with Rafa this evening for round three of the outline review. And once again, he had plenty of food for thought. He is a classicist and is well read on a great amount of classical literature, which makes him a perfect mentor for my project.

In pondering my theme of “Canada” from the book, this week, he introduced the concept of
“Nostos” or homecoming to me and that it might apply to my story as it has unfolded for him.

The story opens with a God moment, and as the story unfolds, Canada becomes part of my story, but for almost the whole outline, Canada does not appear until I cross the border into Canada.

I was directed to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but no “nostos.” I went to the Oxford dictionary and got the word “homecoming.” Then I thought of Wikipedia, now I know, as an academic, that Wikipedia is never used as a credible source nor should you ever cite or use a wiki entry, on any paper. But this is what they had to say about “NOSTOS.”

Nostos (Greek: νόστος) (pl. nostoi) is the Greek word for homecoming, the idea of returning home from a long journey. Nostos can also mean “Welcome Home” in the Greek language. Nostos is a theme dealt with in many Homeric writings such as the Odyssey, in which the main character, Odysseus, strives to get home after the Trojan War. The plural term nostoi is applied to Greek heroes’ homeward journeys after the taking of Troy and is the name of one of the poems of the Epic Cycle on that theme.

God is there, in my life, I am introduced to Him and He to me. The God thread runs throughout my life, and at one point, I am in seminary, then I am summarily dismissed from that seminary when my concept and practice of faith does not meet muster with my superiors.

And I walk off the grounds and look to heaven and say …”Hey God, don’t you know who I am?” “Do I matter or what, and why am I standing here outside the gates, when I should still be standing inside of them, and I am not, WHY?

I have read “The Odyssey” by Homer as a student, and later in life, saw a television movie of the same book. Tonight, Rafa gave me his copy to read, “The Odyssey of Homer by Richmond Lattimore. I am told, this translation is the best one to read.

Why are you reading the Odyssey? you might ask.

My story is a story of “homecoming.” Beginning in one place, and as a child, I am taken on a journey by my parents. I grow up, go to college and seminary, where my personal odyssey begins.

I say my personal odyssey, because I chose what I was going to do it, I was not led or taken anywhere by anyone else, like my parents, growing up as a child.

I travel from one “island” to another “island.” I am adrift at sea a number of times, and then end up on other islands, and the final move is to “ITHACA.” My story, not unlike Odysseus’ journey to return home to Ithaca, takes a long time, on a winding path, from one place to another, to this person and the next, but it seems, for a while, I may never get there, until a fortuitous letter comes in the mail, with an invitation to come HOME.

But the journey is not complete for Odysseus, he just doesn’t return and become king or get the title or his wife, and all that was his, he has to work his way back, one step at a time, and we talked of other books, that we do not have, the book that comes before the Odyssey, and the one that comes after the Odyssey, telling us what happens to Odysseus after he returns to Ithaca.

When I get here, to Montreal, there is still work to do. I just don’t win the prize, having freshly walked over the border. And in the end there is a penance that I must do.

At one point in my story, I meet a priest who is crippled by M.S. and he becomes my spiritual director. And in telling Rafa this story again tonight, he likens me to a “crippled preacher (read: recovering alcoholic), who must travel and share his message with others,” like Odysseus carries an OAR into/onto the land far from the sea, to share his message, until he reaches a place where nobody has ever seen the sea or know what an OAR is.

My life is an Odyssey, and in the end, I get to return to Ithaca and I am finally restored to who I am and to whom I am to become, something that was rightfully mine as a child, but taken away, and as the story unfolds, I am sailing and traveling endlessly, until I reach Ithaca.

I get to Canada, and I inherit all that is mine to have, passed down from my family, but it takes time to learn just what those things are, what they mean, and why they are important.

So my task now, it to rewrite my outline. I need to gather my stories in the form of “Islands and Time at Sea.” Each episode is a visit to some place, to meet someone or learn something. I am reminded to use literary economy, and use as little words as are necessary to tell my story. And if what I am writing is not relevant to the story, to just leave it out.

I need to thread all the stories together, which is why I am reading the book now, before I start writing, to see how it is written, what words are used and why and what they mean.

Read the Book, work on the outline. I have two weeks to complete this round.

Which is why tonight, I begin my read of the Odyssey.

Sunday Sundries … On a Monday Morning Early

tumblr_ndwhz7VmHB1qzx74yo1_1280It overnight, Sunday into Monday morning. I wasn’t going to post, but thought otherwise.

It was a beautiful Sunday, they are telling us that this week, will be more of the same. We will see the warmest temps yet this summer, this week.

Thank God for Air Conditioning.

I spent some time reviewing my outline and did some additions, and thought about the writing process and how it was going to go. I guess I won’t figure that out, until I actually sit down and start writing.

I spoke to my writing coach this evening on the way home, and I told him that I had finished the theme section and my graph was complete. And he suggested I start writing. I would rather sit on my outline for a few days to think about it and let thoughts foment and let things fall where they may. And on Saturday, we can do another read through, to see what comes out of our discussion of the new material. He agreed with me.

I find it better to have two minds on the process because he is well versed in literature and language and he sees things that I don’t. I tell him stories about the stories and I get his feedback and also his vision as he sees the project roll out.

I need to talk to my aunt to get some info from her about the opening chapter. I know what that chapter is, but I need to fill in some detail that I don’t yet have, and she might be able to fill in some of my blanks so that I can explain locations and setting a bit better, than just writing,

“it started here and we were in this building, so forth and so on.”

That is just too general of a description.

We sat a full house at the meeting, and we read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Tradition Seven. Every group should be self supporting declining outside contributions.

Several topics came up in discussion.

  • Financial Freedom
  • Emotional Freedom
  • Putting something in the basket, because we are accountable and want to fell part of
  • Meetings don’t run themselves, someone has to do the shopping and pay the rent
  • With no supplies, we could not feed and coffee the crowds that come

I think about ALL the money I spent on alcohol in 34 years of drinking. A mid size fortune, to be honest. I could probably have fed a third world country with it.

Now I toss a loonie or a toonie in the basket, across my meetings, because I can, and because what I get back in grace and love, pales in comparison to what I give on a nightly basis.

I also set up, make coffee and buy supplies for several meetings across town.

Everybody is well tonight.

One of our women could really use your prayers. She is in hospital and the light at the end of the tunnel is too far away to see, and she needs all the love and support we can throw at her.

Monday starts another busy week. But I would not have it any other way. I have time to spend with others, and I do that. And I better make the best of my time, because you know, we aren’t getting any younger.

T – Minus 5 days … Friday is my birthday, 48 years, another year closer to fifty.

That book needs to be written soon. I promised hubby retirement money for the bank.

And that exactly what I am going to do.

Goodnight from Montreal

Saturday – The Writing Process – Round 2

joy2AThis evening I met with my writing coach and I brought with me my first draft outline. Over the evening we talked through my points, and we built a larger frame to work with. In discussion, he came up with six themes that he became aware of.

The Themes are:

  • God
  • Canada
  • Family
  • Alcohol
  • AIDS
  • Homosexuality

We decided on the first chapter and the last chapter. I know what those two chapters are going to look like and what will go into them. I took copious notes on the draft and brought it home. From my notes, I composed a new outline, incorporating the new points and stories that were fleshed out. Running on the themes that arose, the story is much more complete.

The Outline went from two pages to a total of five pages.

I typed out each story point down the page, completing all the pages, I drew a graph table on the far margin with six columns. One for each theme on each page. Then drew horizontal lines between each story point. Then for each story point, I ticked the box that was theme appropriate for that section.

The story as a whole is my story. But through discussion my coach determined that I also had a Canadian story, which turns the book into a wider audience. God begins the book and ends the book, as one of the main themes that runs throughout the entire story.

Canada begins the book and also ends the book as well. My originally being an American child with Canadian and Italian family. I am introduced to Canada through family, I am raised in the states, but eventually find my way here to Montreal, because of my maternal family.

I have to find my way into assimilation and into Canadian Society, during the run ups to war, seeing the world from above the Northern Border, and how everyday Canadians react to world events, was a shocking show. I am told to sew Canadian flags on my back pack, and my academic adviser begins to orient me towards choosing who I will align myself with.

That process took more than two years to navigate. There was no going back for me, only forwards motion. I came to Canada to become a Canadian citizen which took place in February of 2003. So this is definitely a Canadian Story.

Family, Alcohol, AIDS and Homosexuality are parts of the story and they have a certain beginning and play their part in the fuller story.

I have added some major people to the story, at the points where they impact the timeline as it happened. I can now tie the entire story together and see a fuller picture.

Inside the story are integral paranormal additions. Over my lifetime, family members who have died, at some point, return to me one way or another, those would be my Grammy, Grampy, Memere, my mother’s mother and finally Sister Georgette. Their appearances play a part in the story telling, and take place at certain points in the story.

Now I have a complete road map of what I am going to write and how that is going to flesh out.

I have the stories in chronological order with their themes.

I need to work out how to weave the stories together, within the themes provided, and write a cohesive story, start to finish.

I have completed the table for my next session next Saturday.

There is yet to be a title, but I am told, that will come eventually.

He spoke about Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, and how I did not need a chapter on “the whiteness of the whale.” And he also mentioned Earnest Hemingway and how grand a writer he was, which then I said, I don’t know if I have those kinds of voices to write with, because I am literate up to a certain level. I don’t use lofty words that are beyond my comprehension, just to get an idea across. But I do have a voice.

I find, usually in my Pastoral Ministry work, that if I need to write someone or talk about a certain topic in that field, I can sit down and think about what I need to say, and I find that words come to me on specific occasions based on specific needs. The words are there, I just may not have them but on a need to have basis.

My coach likes my voice and my story telling ability.

He is sure there is a hit on the way for you all to look forward to.

More to come, stay tuned …