Share in a General Way

I’m a fan of round-ups, it’s a good place to hear experience, strength and hope from all over the world – usually.

About 15 years ago I went up to the Upper Peninsula (the UP) of Michigan for a round-up with a bunch of folks from my Eau Claire AA meetings. I was looking forward to it, I think a few people that I’d heard before were to be speaking. The first night an American Indian woman was the speaker, I’d never heard her story before. Around the 40 minute mark of her talk I’d heard all about the oppression of the American Indian and how that affected her growing up into adulthood – but I don’t think she’d even taken a drink at that point. I walked out – I was followed by several other people who were as frustrated as I was.

I’m sorry but I came to hear experience, strength and hope about alcoholism and how to recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. That’s why I’m here. Did I come to the wrong meeting?

A few years back I went to a “gay” round-up in Miami, I had scoffed at it for years without ever going until I thought hard about “contempt prior to investigation” so that year I went. The majority of the speakers at the round-up, and especially the Saturday night speaker, talked about being gay, coming out and their relationships more by far than they talked about alcoholism, recovery from alcoholism or struggling to stay sober. Except when the Saturday night speaker mentioned her sobriety date I don’t think she talked about the program at all. I remained hopeful and tried to be respectful to this woman with over 40 years in the program, but I left that night convinced I was right about “gay round-ups” all along. Perhaps the organizers tell the speakers of this round-up to really stress life as a gay.

I’m not here to recover from being gay, I’m not here to talk about that or learn how difficult it was for you to come out of the closet to your parents, your friends, your co-workers. I’m here because I have a desire to stop drinking and live life being of maximum service to God (or what have you) and my fellows.

I was asked to share my experience strength and hope at the end of 2011 in Minneapolis. I never practice sharing my experience or know what’s going to come out of my mouth when I do share, I just open my mouth and try to keep it honest (I remember once at the Eau Claire Pacific Group at the podium where I lied and immediately stopped myself and called myself out on it, I was pretty new). During my talk I mentioned that when one of my best friends moved out to the East Coast she said “You have to come with, Eau Claire is no place for a gay boy to be” and later on I talked briefly about getting engaged and dumped in the last year and wanting to drink over that. I didn’t dwell on being gay, I didn’t focus my talk on coming out of the closet or about how wonderful it is having gay sex.

I shared in a general way, what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now as it relates to alcoholism, recovery from alcoholism and the joys and tribulations that I’ve experienced in sobriety. I think that’s what we’re supposed to talk about.

When I met with my sponsor last week I told him that one of the members, a friend, of the group I spoke at expressed gratitude that I spoke in a general way about being gay. She said that typically when gay people come to speak they spend most of there time talking about the coming out process and how difficult it is being gay. She appreciated that someone could come and mention it without making it the focus of their talk. I thought that was interesting. My sponsor said that he thinks as society comes to accept the gay lifestyle more and more the coming out process will be less of traumatic experience to our young people and he thinks its already started to change to reflect that in meetings. I hope so.

Tales of Old Re-Read Anew

In 1985, I was either a Freshman or Sophomore in Whitehall Memorial High School (who was it a Memorial to? I have no idea) and we were required to go to the school library to attend the R.I.F. event. [The library was not one of my favorite places anyway, learning the dewey decimal system was required – yeah, that’ll get me interested in books or suicide, lets risk it.] We’d been having R.I.F. events at school each year, maybe twice a year and I was never really interested in the speel they’d give before they let us pick a book or even the books that were available to us. At this particular R.I.F. event I was there with my friend Ted and after the opening remarks we started looking at the books, not too hopeful at all that there would be anything good.

We stumbled upon a book or two that had dragons on the cover and in the title. Both were from the same series Dragonlance Chronicles and were the 2nd and 3rd in the series. Ted grabbed Dragons of Winter Night and I grabbed Dragons of Spring Dawning and agreed to read what we could and talk about them with one another. Ted and I were already talking about comic books regularly and all that was going on there so this was a natural progression I suppose. I don’t know why the first book wasn’t available nor why I didn’t seem to grasp the whole idea of a story progressing from one book to another…

 

 

Over the next few weeks Ted and I would share what we were reading and became enthralled with the characters of the books and the story that was happening. Being on the third book I was really rather lost as to what was going on and the significance of the characters as they related to the whole story. But it was still a good story that kept me reading from one page to the next – Ted too. At some point we switched up the two books. Fortunately for Ted he was following the progression, but I was a bit confused and tried to piece it all together. Later on when we found the first book, Dragons of Autumn Twilight, we’d both be in the same boat. After starting at the middle and the end we both re-read the books from the beginning to the end and really appreciated them all the more. We loved the story, the characters the ideas that stretched our imagination.

 

 

Most importantly, we kept reading other things – so R.I.F. was successful for us. It got two guys that mostly only cared about comic books to read other things. It didn’t mean either of us put our comics away or that we were only going to read about stories with dragons and wizards, but it did mean that we actually came to find the enjoyment only a book can offer.

Recently these titles have become available for the Kindle and I just finished re-reading the first book and fell in love with the characters and story all over again. In moving and aging somehow I lost my original books to this series, I have a collected works that has all these books in one large volume, the cover and first few pages have come off and it’s aged and yellow. I really love this old story and reading it again.

Thank you Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Margaret McNamara and the 1975 U.S. Congress for helping me find something I enjoy so much.

 

Company Man

Last week marked the end of Access-Ability Consultants, Inc’s (AAC) 4th year in business. Jim and I started out in January of 2008 after being fired by an asshole (to read about our last employer and all the items leading up to us being fired, look at my archives in January – May of 2008) and we’ve managed to stick around longer than I thought we would, but not longer than Jim thought we would.

If you didn’t know, AAC is a where I work (yes, yes, I can hear your muffled giggles). My boss, Jim, is an architect who specializes in the American’s with Disabilities Act. We help businesses (Hotels, retail stores, gas stations, colleges…) to get their buildings up to code when they are doing a remodel, a new build or if they are being sued. This can involve us looking at plans, designs and photos or having Jim (or our consultant Vera) go to a site to survey it, taking measurements and photos. We then write up a report detailing what we’ve found and send it off to the client. Generally, that’s the end of what we do, but sometimes there is hand holding and walking through step by step of each detail we found.

We really try to have fun while we’re working. Jim gets a lot of emails from Clients and friends and he also does a lot of local volunteer work – I reluctantly help him, even though those people drive me crazy more often than not. We have a relaxed work schedule when we’re not doing client work and I encourage Jim to golf more than he does.

We have a really great arrangement, I’ve found a job that I really love and a partner to work with who isn’t just my boss and co-worker, he’s my friend. Every day at the office we hug one another hello and goodbye, we know about one another families and we have as much fun as we can. Does this mean we don’t quarrel or swear at one another? lol, nope – we do that sometimes too.

When we started the company we said we’d give it a try for five years and if it worked out we’d re-evaluate after that and see what we wanted to do. So here we are, we’ve started year five and everything is going swimmingly. Not sure what this year will bring, but I’m glad that I have my friend to experience it with.

Happy Anniversary Boss! Love Ya!My Boss - My Friend

p.s. When Jim was terminated he had to sue our old employer to get money he was owed, you can read about that here: The Lawsuit

Trip at the Dentist

So yesterday I broke a tooth while munching on hard sourdough pretzels at home. I wasn’t in any pain, but I knew I would have to call the dentist and see him. So I called late in the afternoon and sure enough they scheduled me for 7:30 this morning. Joy. So this morning I woke at the usual time and left early for the long walk to the dentist.

Deep breaths, deep breaths, prayer mantras, deep breaths… slow and steady, imagine your somewhere else.

Once I was seated in the chair and they took a look at what they had to work with the dentist – a new guy I’d never had before which just adds to my anxiety – starts to explain the procedure to me and show me a short video of the deal. I ask him to stop and explain that all of that just adds to my anxiety. Yes, yes, anything at the dentist can add to my anxiety apparently. They give me a local and then a shot of Novocaine and do an x-ray to check out the whole area and then bring me back to my seat and ask if I’m numb… but I’m not. I wonder if being a drug addict/alcoholic has raised made me less susceptible to Novocaine as I almost always need two shots. Then they start the nitrous oxide, which I get to try to calm me down more, they leave me to let all the drugs take effect… Then the unexpected happens, unexpected for me but one of the dental hygienists says its common.

I start to trip out. I mean full blown hallucination trip to never never land. The world started spinning away. Words, music and sounds started to skip and warp into unrecognizable noises. Though still in the dentist chair I feel like I’m speeding forward and a thousand miles an hour and can feel the wind blowing through my hair – when did I get hair? Then I was walking on a beach wondering how I got there and a very small part of me remembered where I was and struggled to grasp on to something real. I panic when nothing I grasp for is solid.  Damn this feels great, I’m not supposed to feel this way, I’m not supposed to do these things anymore. Then a small panic sets in an I wonder if I’ve relapsed and created an elaborate story where I’ve broken a tooth just so I could trip and get away with it. (I have drinking dreams like that sometimes, and I spend most of the dream wondering which reality is reality and which is dream)

Fortunately the dentist and his assistant come in then and while they’re working on me all the hallucinations stop, I’m stationary, I’m calm, I feel no pain – just the occasional feeling that I’m drowning when there is too much water in my mouth and before I know it they’ve stopped again and leave me for a short while – and zoom I’m off to the races again. The world warps away and is replaced by something else entirely that I know isn’t real and is just an effect of the gas – at this point I’m so freaked out about the experience I yank the gas off my face and breathe through my mouth for a good long while. When the dental hygienist comes in he asks what’s wrong…

I point to the gas and say “Nothing, everything, that was good and bad… I can’t have that anymore. I started hallucinating”

“Yeah, that happens a lot” he says

Never to me before, really shook me up today. Maybe they could just knock me out when I go to the dentist and wake me when it’s all over?