Self-Checkout Rules

There should be rules for something and one of those things that got on my nerves today – again – was folks in Self-Checkout aisles that don’t follow the rules. Now you would think that common sense would prevail and there wouldn’t need to be rules for self-checkout aisle, but you would be wrong. You may find that these rules apply to other situations as well and by all means, feel free to adopt them to your need or cause.

1. Don’t use your pocketful of change to pay if you’re in the self check out aisle. There are other people with credit cards or cash that are staring at you in disbelief – it is not your imagination, they really hate you.

2. Don’t attempt to use that wrinkled up dollar to pay if you’re in the self-check out. You should know by know that the only machines that will take those dollars easily are in Vegas and Atlantic City… feel free to move.

3. Don’t buy beer, liquor, wine, cigarettes or decongestants these items require you to show your identification, that is the anti self check out.

4. Know your fruits and vegetables. If you get to the self-check out and can’t remember what the name of the produce that you picked up is and have to ask the clerk… well, see number 3.

5. You have a cart full of groceries – yep, that’s not going to be fast at all. Part of the appeal of the self check out is that it’s fast, but if you’re there with your month supply of food stuff it’s not going to be fast at all.

6. Children. If your child can’t help but touch things, including the scale and where the bags go. It might be a good idea to tie them up with duct tape or perhaps leave their asses at home… or you could simply go to a regular aisle.

It is my belief that the purpose of the self-check out is efficiency. If you have all the time in the world, go talk to the clerk and get the hell out of my way.

Listen to yourself already

So, I’ve had the CD of my talk for a month now and just couldn’t bring myself to listen to it. When I was up there talking I know that I shared my story but I could only remember the first part (where I read from the book) and the last part (when I talked about my Pa) every thing else was pretty much a blur. I wasn’t too worried, I had said a few prayers before I started so I knew whatever came out of my mouth should be ok, but I had no clear idea of what it was that I said.

Yesterday while talking to Michael K about a trip to Ft Lauderdale next month I mentioned that I hadn’t yet listened to it. He suggested that I should and scoffed at the idea of others lying when they said I did a good job… I know that I shouldn’t think spiritual giants of AA would be liars, but sometimes I still do…

Anyway, tonight I listened and while it was brief, it wasn’t that bad… I don’t think I’ll be joining any circuits, but I’m glad I stood on a message I could recognize and be proud of.

What’s in a Name?

I was born as James Jody _____. Phillip _________, my biological father was the star football player in Blair, WI and my biological Mother Cheryl ___________ and he hooked up and had my sister and then me for children. Both Phillip and Cheryl were alcoholics and you can guess how the marriage went. My biological mother always told the story of how Phillip would drink up all the money and her mother would have to bring us food as babies.

In 1974 (give or take a year) my biological mother met and married Joseph __________, who adopted me and my sister – we took his last name. Joe was/is also an alcoholic.

Joe was a violent drunk who beat my mother bloody regularly. His family helped him beat her on a few occasions. One fathers day on our way home from somewhere he was arrested for some warrant. He was a lot of things, but he was never my father.

When I was thirteen and again at 15 I met my biological father. He was kind enough to get me drunk both times, offered to get me a hooker so I would lose my virginity and denounced my mothers tales of his drinking as her excuses.

In 1986 at the age of 15 I was put into the Foster Home system. I was placed in the home I’ve stated before that Ma was sitting in a rocking chair knitting and Pa was sitting in his rocker – they were both very old (I was 15) and I knew it would never be a lasting placement, there was no way these old people could keep up with me nor manage me. Yet that’s exactly what they did. My Ma and Pa fed me regularly, loved me constantly and even made me be responsible for my own actions.

My Pa was the first human adult male that loved me regardless of who I was or what I had done. He didn’t want anything in return, he just wanted to love me. When I did something wrong I could see actual disappointment in his eyes, I could see concern – these were things that were foreign to me.

At around 20 my biological father died from complications of diabetes – alcohol became more important than insulin – that’s a serious complication.

When I sobered up I made amends to my biological father by regularly going to his grave and cleaning it up and I talk to him. But he’s not really my father.

I also managed to see my adopted father Joe at a bar (I had a legitimate reason for being there) and made as much of an amend that I might have needed to make. But he’s also never been my father.

My Pa, was from the first day he met me up until the day he died in November of last year, my father.

This is just a brief few words explaining what’s been going on in my head since before Pa died last year, but it will possibly help you to understand why I’m taking his name as part of mine.

If all goes according to plan my name will change to honor Pa before October 1, 2009.

I’ll keep you posted and thank you for your understanding.

The Auction (Trip to WI Part 3)

I think that a little background information might be appropriate here so bear with me if you’ve heard some of this before.

My Pa died in November of 2008, but before he died he managed to get to as many auctions as he could within driving distance (8 hours probably wouldn’t have been too far to drive for an auction for him) where he proceeded to buy items. Usually the items that Pa would buy would be mowers, snoblowers, engines for such – but sometimes the items he bought were a little more exotic. I know that he had a set of street lights, the kind that you would see on a city street, well maybe a small town street. After my Pa would buy these items he would take them to his “Shop” which he bought 9 years ago, the “Shop” used to be owned by a lumber company (it was huge: at least 3 floors and a basement area, there are little cubby hole type places all over that can only be reached by small sets of stairs – HUGE).

Anyone in the family that would ask about what he might want to do with these items would be given any one of a standard litany of responses: “Don’t you worry about it.” or “I’ve got plans for that” or “That’s none of your business” among other things. But every once in a while he would chuckle at the prospect of us all having to clean it up after he was gone.

So, since it warmed up in WI in late March my sister Rhonda took charge of the task and we started to prepare for the auctions. We originally planned to have three auctions (and in hindsight I really wish we would have had three) but dropped it down to two after the first auction was so successful. Rhonda, being the only one of us that lives close to Ma and the shop, spent almost every day down at the shop with her husband, or Ma going through the place and determining what was what. I understand that we threw away over 7 long dumpsters full of items (Pa did have notes on SOME items that said: “for Parts” or “unrepairable”). I managed to get home in March, May, June and July to help and I know my brother Kenny who lives closer was home a few more times that I was bur primarily Rhonda did the bulk of the work.

I knew what I was in for this trip to WI, the last trip about wore me out so I knew I’d be busy. We would wake up each morning about 6 head for breakfast at the Garden of Eatin’ before heading to the shop. It’s dirty, hard, endless work down there and after even an hour or two you wonder if it’ll ever be over (my sister did this every day for a quite a while and I’m very proud of her). At 12 the sirens for town go off and we’d head for Ma’s for a quick lunch before heading back down to the shop for the remainder of the day. Around 6 Ma would have dinner ready at home and we’d all chow down and moan alot (sore muscles).

We did get some help while we were down there working. Greg’s dad was down each day helping out, Ma’s nephew Byron was down a few days and really worked up a sweat, there was an annoying kid named Michael who just wouldn’t shut up but he helped so I didn’t pummel him.

The last two days leading up to the auction we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, items were strategically placed outside and throughout the building in such a way that hundreds of people could safely walk through and get a look at them. We worked from early in the morning to late in the evening, nerves frayed, tempers tested and nephews absent.

The day of the auction had finally arrived. We spent about three hours before the auction taking a few remaining items out of the building and into the lot, we also moved a million items that belonged to one or the other of the nephews into the back of pickup trucks and cars. The stage was set and soon all the players started to arrive the auctioneer’s were there and soon the lot filled with old men in various stages of disarray (there apparently are no dress code suggestions for an auction, it’s come as you are).

This might have seemed to be the longest day the auction started at 9:30 a.m. and continued on until around 6:00 p.m. And for the most part we all just kind of stood around and waited. Every once in a while one of the auctioneer’s would need something and we would take care of that but mostly, we just stood around and waited.

My nephews, brother, and brother-in-law all bid on things and won them. I didn’t see anything that I wanted to bid on that I could fit in my luggage so I just let those items go… yes, sarcasm.

Almost every item was bid on, not as much as we had hoped, but some. The building was sold around 1:30 to the highest bidder at less than half of what Pa had paid for it 9 years ago – the new owner has pipe dreams that were reminiscent of Pa’s pipe dreams and I wish him luck. The winners of the bids had 2 full days to retrieve their items or they would become property of the new owners – I hope they managed to do so.

That night we ordered pizza and sat around the kitchen table talking about the events of the day, month and year. We joked and kidded and old resentments flared up and new jokes and stories were born.

It’s nice to go home and see my family, it’s nice to spend time with them… but I’d rather never ever prepare for auctions like this again. But if my Ma or Rhonda asks for help, I’ll do what I can to be there for them, they’ve always been there for me.

The Rest of the Conference (Trip the Midwest Part 2)

Saturday morning I had breakfast with an old friend Cliff H in the hotel restaurant, we talked about his family, underground country music and AA. It was nice. He and I headed over to hear the Alanon speaker, Joan H from MN. She gave a very good talk and made me laugh quite a bit.

After the speaker the other AA speakers and I took a tour of Eau Claire with Bruce, we visited places where Clancy I was young and places that he talks about in his own talk. We ended the tour at Ray’s on Water Street for Hot Beef sandwiches which really hit the spot.

I was free until the buffet dinner at 5:30 and again tried to take a nap, but this time Pat and Brenda called. I saw them to their room in the hotel and then headed down to my room to get ready again.

The buffet was… well, the coffee was good and the conversation.

Jim H from Chicago was the speaker and he gave a good talk, after which we lined up to thank him and then headed to the ice cream social which is loved by all.

Sunday morning arrived to quickly and I packed up my things and loaded them in Pat and Brenda’s car. I had breakfast with the guy from Gopher State Tape Library who taped the event, we had nice conversations and a good breakfast.

The morning speaker was Kenna from Los Angeles CA and she gave a real good talk that had me laughing a lot at points and thinking alot at other points, after which we lined up to thank her.

The roundup no officially over there were photos to be taken of the speakers, the hosts and gifts to be given to the speakers which included an Eau Claire t-shirt and a bag of certified dirt from the Eau Claire area.

Pat, Brenda and I headed to Chippewa Falls, but not before we stopped at Taco John’s for me ;-).

Sunday was a very relaxed day at Pat and Brenda’s and Pat and I headed to the Northside Group for a step 7 meeting that evening which hit the spot. It was great to be back at my old home group and hear some real recovery at a step meeting.

Monday was a day filled with pipe dreams of movies and fun and didn’t really become anything. Tuesday was spent with me waiting for Pat to finish work to drive me to Galesville. I arrived in Galesville Tuesday afternoon, shortly before dinner.

Trip to the Midwest July 2009 Part 1

Why am I here again? I’ve been to WI 6 or 7 times in the last year, yet I am there again… Well, I was asked to speak at the Chippewa Valley Roundup this year. This is the 12th Annual Chippewa Valley Roundup, and a little more than 12 years ago I was actually part of the organizing committee for the roundup, that was before a resentment or two kicked in.

I landed in MSP on Wednesday afternoon and shortly after my arrival I entered the shuttle van that would deliver me to Eau Claire. All the way to Eau Claire there were a multitude of state troopers that were pulling over several RVs, buses and cars – I had never seen that many police on the road from MSP to Eau Claire before.

Immediately upon arrival in Eau Claire Pat and I headed to Taco Johns for a quick meal. We took that as an opportunity to catch up a bit and I got to hear about their hopes to become parents to a foreign exchange student from Thailand.

When we arrived in Chippewa Falls we were greeted by Brenda and Maui (the dog) and had a nice little time chatting. It wasn’t long before the night time caught up with us and we were all headed for bed.

Thursday morning the entire Isenberger family headed off for work and I was free to waste time as I saw fit. I headed over to Arby’s for a very late breakfast (roast beef sandwhich) and then that afternoon I drove Sami (I call her Sam just to annoy her) to Oakwood Mall. I had my earring cleaned and then she and I had lunch (I eat a lot in WI) in the food court. We then headed to Banbury Place (former home of the Uniroyal plant) and picked up Brenda.

I was the only one interested in going to the Pacific Group that night and I wasn’t sure if my sponsor would make it or not, but lo and behold he arrived with 15 minutes to spare before the meeting. My friend and former sponsee Jon S spoke at the meeting and it was nice to see all the old friends and to be a part of the meeting. I also had a chance to meet Jim H the Saturday night speaker at the roundup. After the meeting Steve and I joined the guys for food at Perkin’s a local tradition here.

Steve and I headed for Chippewa Falls where Pat was waiting up for us – at this point it was likely close to 11:00 central time and I imagine Steve was tired, but Pat, Steve and I stayed up talking for quite a while.

Friday morning we took Steve for a small tour of the area which included Taco John’s and the Oakwood Mall area. When we arrived back in Chippewa Steve and I loaded up his car with my bags and he dropped me off at the hotel. I was hoping for a nap.

However, not too long after I closed my eyes, Bruce E called and said he was on his way up to my room with goodies. True to his word, he and another AA showed up soon enough with a bunch of food items for me, the speaker. It was nice, but a real nap would have been nicer.

So, having been awoken I headed downstairs to grab my registration badge and other items that the committee had prepared for me. I was told almost immediately that I had just missed seeing my friend Renata who had come down from MSP to see me.

I went back up to my room, took a nice shower (though the shower did make a whistling sound the whole time – I’m not THAT cute) and shaved my head. I took the time to look at the Big Book and say a few prayers that I thought might be helpful to me that day before heading down to have dinner with my host, the other speakers and some committee members.

Dinner was… well, the bread pudding was good and the conversation was good, that’s about it.

There was quite a lot of fellowship before the meeting and I was lucky enough to be able to see most of my friends before I had to speak.

I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t scared I was fine. I stood up there and listened to them read How It Works, The Traditions, and then had Dr. Larry introduce me. Then I read a small part of the Big Book, the part about us being sensitive and then just started talking. I really have no idea what I said, I recall talking about my Pa, but that’s about it, that’s pretty standard for me when I talk.

After the talk most of the people lined up and shook my hand or gave me a hug. Many of them said I did a great job, and I hope I did… I guess I should listen to the CD sometime.