…the end’s well

The worst part of preparing for surgery is not being able to have coffee in the morning… really that was the absolute worst part of prep. This mornings coffee tastes so good, absence indeed made the heart grow fonder. MMMMMM

My friend Cliff picked me up yesterday morning and took me to the Hospital, I had offers from several people including work folk, but Cliff made the most sense. Cliff did come with a cup of coffee for himself, which made me crave it soooo badly. He came in with me and we made sure they had his number to call when I was finished. I handed him my wallet and keys and he was off. He could have come up with me to the pre-surgical place – but why would you do that to some one? (See my post on how I get when I visit folks in the hospital: Squeamish) Continue reading

Hungry

I see that people are trying to cut funding for Food Stamp programs… correct that, I hear there are already cuts to the Food Stamps (SNAP) program about to take place and they still want to cut more. That’s probably a lot better than raising taxes on the rich, right?

I grew up in a family that received food stamps, it isn’t something that a person should look forward to. And let me tell you, if you’re looking forward to the food stamps arriving (I understand there is a card now and not actual stamps) then you’re probably very hungry or have kids that are.

Back when we were kids Mom did everything she could to stretch those stamps and get us as much food as she could. We were growing kids, and kids tend to eat a lot when they’re growing and when you can’t eat as much as your body needs then sometimes you have other issues. If we were lucky we had some free “government” cheese – processed, very orange… and think about that “lucky” if you tasted that cheese you wouldn’t think you were lucky at all… but if that’s what you have that’s what you have.

Food Stamps are in a section of the US Budget that is only 12%  – here’s some of what’s in that 12% 

include:  the refundable portions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which assist low- and moderate-income working families through the tax code; programs that provide cash payments to eligible individuals or households, including Supplemental Security Income for the elderly or disabled poor and unemployment insurance; various forms of in-kind assistance for low-income families and individuals, including SNAP (food stamps), school meals, low-income housing assistance, child care assistance, and assistance in meeting home energy bills; and various other programs such as those that aid abused and neglected children.

Personally I don’t want to cut things that are helping our elderly, kids or poor stay fed, housed and warm. Last year Food Stamps (SNAP) gave $133.41 a month, per person. It’s not something you want to line up to receive. You can’t use it in casinos, you can’t use it to buy games for the Xbox, you can’t use it for cigarettes or liquor either – it’s food. just food.

Cory Booker did a “live on Food Stamps challenge” last year and it received lots of media attention . People think it’s easy to live like that but it’s not, he struggled for a week – imagine living like that every day for months and years.

Is it welfare? I don’t know… the definition I found  is:

statutory procedure or social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need: the protection of rights to education, housing, and welfare.

and that seems right, but when I hear the word welfare I’m reminded of being teased by kids. I’m reminded of being looked down upon by cashiers, government workers, the middle class… I don’t see that definition in the books, but that’s the definition that sticks with me.

I’d prefer to say it’s the right thing. It’s the right thing to make sure children can eat. It’s the right thing to ensure struggling family, including those in the military, can have a regular meal. I think we should be doing the right thing here and that means NOT cutting the SNAP program.

First Trip Sober

I was with my sponsor and grand-sponsor the first time I flew on a plane as an adult. We flew from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, a Northwest flight and we were seated in the same row. It was May of 1996 and we were going for the one year AA birthday of my first sponsor, Terry.

Many years before the events of 9/11 it was easy, worry free and a pleasant experience. I was still a smoker at the time and my biggest concern was making it far without a smoke – I think the ban on smoking on flights had just started and I was none to pleased. They offered us pillows, blankets and showed a movie. I had the window seat and was much more interested in the sky outside than the entertainment inside. I may have slept for a bit I really don’t recall.

Mid-flight they came to offer us a meal, I think it was a sandwich of which I had no interest. I was, if you can believe it, even pickier about what I ate back then. My grand-sponsor glared at me and said next time I was to give him my lunch if I didn’t want it – he wentertainment inside. I may have slept for a bit I really don’t recall.

We landed without much ado, my ears didn’t have a hard time adjusting to the altitude change like they do now. I think we were going to be there for about a week so we all checked luggage. When I thought of LAX I’d imagine scenes from Airplane with the “the white zone is for loading and unloading only – shut up Jane” and such… and it wasn’t really that, but there were so many people and it was rather loud. Everyone seemed to know where they were going and were in a hurry to get there, my Grand-sponsor led the way to baggage, but I think he was a bit unsure of himself.

The traffic was insane, even once we departed the freeway I kept imagining we’d soon be crashing into other vehicles. The trip to Santa Monica was short enough and the weather was very nice, I recall us having the windows open and feeling the sun shine warm us.

The whole week we were there was mostly about going to meetings. Being the good AA’s that we were we showed up early to every meeting, helped set up (sometimes this can be an issue, people are very serious about their commitments) and then waited sometimes almost an hour for a meeting to start. At the Big Meeting we were chastised by the people in front of us for clapping and “woo woo” ing to loudly. I remember seeing a famous person and telling Terry “wow, look there’s so and so” and Terry said it was just a look-a-like… but I’m still not sure.

We met Terry’s roommate Oscar who showed us around one day, we were at Venice Beach, climbing some rocks, driving faster than folks should drive. He was a nice guy. I learned about couch commitments – where people let new folks sleep on their couch while they first get sober to get established, seemed crazy to me at the time but now I can see where it would be helpful to folks. I remember being in their apartment and hearing the news reports constantly talking about people getting shot, that was most of the news and it was a bit of a culture shock to go from “the weather and farm report are next” to “breaking news as shots fired in local mall”.

We visited the Midnight Mission and chatted with Clancy. It was way above my pay scale to meet all these old timers. I recall I had my hands in my pockets and one of the old-timers said: “Get your hands out of your pockets, He’ll (pointing to Clancy) provide the entertainment.” I was mortified (I was very sensitive back then).

We were soon off to lunch with Clancy, some little Mexican place and we were all seated promptly, Clancy ordered for everyone and before I knew it there was this strange meal and a diet coke in front of me that I wasn’t sure of… WTH is a Fajita and Diet Coke is nasty. I had to watch others and I tried to copy them making a fajita for the first time, I didn’t want to make a fuss – I was the new guy here with 2 years hardly worth noticing 😉 You know what? I loved Fajitas, you can add the ingredients you like, it was spicy, it was flavorful… if nothing else I gained that from the trip to LA.

Saturday we were to go to the yard, I put on a Country Jam tshirt that I packed and found my Grand-sponsor was wearing one also – he made me change shirts so we didn’t look too bumpkin I imagine. Then we went to the yard (Clancy’s house) and did all the fun things they do there. Softball across the road was next and I had no interest in playing softball, but before I knew it I was up to bat – I saw the ball coming I swung it and actually hit the ball – for a moment I was standing there shocked that I actually hit the ball with the bat… then I looked to see who was going to catch it… but I didn’t realize it had gone straight up and it promptly landed on my head (this explains a lot about the following years of my life)  and I was on the ground. I was ok, and thankfully they let me stop playing softball.

On our way to the airport to go home there was a news report of a plane crashing in Florida, I was really suddenly worried about the safety of the plane we were going to be on, but all the other LAX people were just rushing from here to there.

I came back motivated to do more in AA and to have bigger groups and more fun social activities with peers. I also vowed to go again, and I did the following year without my sponsor and grand-sponsor. This became a ritual for me, every year for my AA birthday I’d take a trip somewhere – I found out many years later that my best friend wished I’d take trips to spend it with her, so I’ve done that a few times as well.

Busy DC Visit

Saturday morning I was up early to catch a 6:30 flight to BWI. My first trip back to DC since I moved. I had called a cab the night before and they assured me they would be here on time – they called when I was still naked but I assured them I’d be down there in about 10 minutes. When I got down stairs the taxi was driving around the parking lot and another taxi was shadowing him, my phone rang the taxi guy wanted to know which building and I told him how to find me… I also asked about the taxi taking him and he assured me he didn’t know. When we pulled out onto Thomas the other taxi turned the other way. On the way to the airport I asked if I could roll down the window in the back and he said no, “You’ll be cold” he said. I rolled my eyes at him and if I had had my coffee I might not have been as irritated as I was… but then the music started. Over his communication radio came some music from his homeland and it was all crackly and staticky and played the whole way…. arrgghh.

I got through airport security quickly enough, stood in line for coffee for over 20 minutes (they really need more coffee places) and before I knew it I was boarding the plane. The plane ride was uneventful, I slept an hour or so and read the book The Ocean at the End of the Lane. As we descended into Baltimore I noticed the leaves changing and wasn’t awed or inspired, yes, now they’re  orange, gold, yellow and red… /yawn

Jim being funny

Jim being funny

My good friend Jim picked me up at the airport and was happy to see him. I gave him a big hug and knew all was right with the world. We started chatting right away about all kinds of things “How are the kids? How are the grandkids? Where’s Ana?” I asked. We stopped to have lunch and chatted some more. I wanted to get to the house in Washington to see Mouse (the cat) as she’d been alone for about 24 hours so Jim drove me into the city.  I hugged my friend farewell, I knew I’d see him Monday morning and we clarified all of that.

Upon entering my old residence I attempted to open the door with my Scottsdale apartment key … but quickly was inside, video camera in hand to try to capture a super Youtube viral video of which my cat didn’t participate… she was very cautious about sniffing me and letting me touch her, oh well.

I spent a few hours with Mouse and put some personal hygiene products away before heading to Pentagon City Mall to have dinner with my best friend Suzanne. Now that was a very involved conversation – I’m going through a small rough patch and she drove all the way up from Virginia Beach (3 1/2 hours) to see me and make sure I was ok. We talked about her too, it’s not just about me. Just seeing her and spending that time with her was worth the trip. She’s the type of friend that won’t let me live in my own shit, she shows me the way when I’m in the dark – she’s always been that for me.

Saturday night as I fell asleep on the couch at Gary’s Mouse slept near me, but not too near.. 🙂 Sunday morning she followed me around as I showered and headed out for a day of stuff. I headed to Annie’s Steak House for breakfast with my friend Steve. I ate there every Sunday morning that I was home and almost always ate their Grilled Chicken Salad for breakfast, lunch or dinner – I really like it.

After breakfast I headed over to a gay AA meeting to see old friends. The meeting was ok. It was nice to see some people and hear all the latest gossip and drama. I then had lunch with my friend Jason, it was nice to talk to him and see what’s been going on. I also talked with him about some work stuff and discovered interesting tidbits.

I didn’t get back to Gary’s until afternoon and Mouse was starving and suddenly very friendly – she gets fed one wet meal a day and she was convinced it was time – I held off until 2:30 and then gave in to her. After she eats then she wants nothing to do with you and finds a dark spot to take a nap. I took a brief nap and then had to head out to have dinner with some other friends – this time at the Cheesecake Factory.

I was anticipating more friends than arrived, but things come up. It was Danny, Steve and Cynthia with me for dinner and it was such a great experience – the waitress was odd and gave us moments to question if we were on TV or something a few times. It was so nice to see these folks and hear about the growth of the meeting, their lives and talk to them – I really miss them. The night was well worth the the trip to DC. When we finished after hugs and “see you Tuesday?” Cynthia dropped me off at Jinx Proof tattoos so I could see her paramour and my friend Matthew. I wanted to make sure it was ok to ask another tattoo guy in his shop to do a big tattoo for me… the guy is known for his superhero/comic book tattoos and it’s just amazing… I also wanted to see Matthew as he couldn’t make dinner. I’ve known some of these folks such as short time but really connect with them – Matthew feels like one of those friends I’ve always known. I walked back to Gary’s from Georgetown – 3.7 miles… this is something I used to do all the time but my legs really ached after – I need to walk more again.IMG_2993

Monday morning I awoke at six was out of the house by 7 to meet Jim in Takoma Park. We stopped at the 7/11 for coffee and then proceeded to his house where I looked at the QuickBooks account, sorted files, paid bills, fixed computer bugs (not viruses, just minor annoyances) and then helped his wife Ana, with some computer issues and taught her a few new tricks – she’s a great student. I spent the entire day with the DiLuigi’s and it was very nice to do so, they’ve always been family and mean the world to me. Jim shocked Ana and I by deciding to go through and throw away old files… like over 25 years old… It was nice to look at papers that referenced the forming of the American’s with Disabilities Act and know that this man was a part of that back then. We ended the day at Outback, and had more and more conversations before I headed back to DC.

Gary and Ian had been in Fort Lauderdale for the last few days and I finally got the chance to see them. Mouse was there too and was kind of lovable. It was nice to see my old roommate and I commented how nice it was of him to leave my bathroom the same as it was when I left – all my toiletries were exactly where i left them. Before I knew it I had to go to bed, I was to be up at 6 to go back to Jim’s – this night Mouse slept with me and it was nice – she usually sleeps down at my feet under the covers so no tossing and turning 🙂

lunch

lunch

Tuesday after more work at Jim and Ana’s we went to Maggiano’s to have lunch. It was the DiLuigi’s, Gary and Ian. We had family style and took our time, I think we had a three hour lunch. The conversations ranged from horse racing and church to the way Ian pronounces “garage” – the English are wonderful.

Tuesday night I attended my home group, the Tuesday Night Big Book Study – the best meeting in Washington DC. The room was packed full of people and all the founders were there. After the first reading I shared and then my friends shared and then other people shared and it was wonderful… I needed that. AA here in Scottsdale is nice, but the TNBBS is top rated. I was able to see Taylor and Laura who couldn’t make the dinner on Sunday and got so many hugs and … ahhhh…. what a great group. Afterwards Danny, Matthew and I had a quick stop at the Cosi chatting away until they closed the place at 9. Matthew and I drove over to his and Cynthia’s new house (7)42 is the house number (the seven is silent) and they really picked a great place – enough room for the both of them, spacious and I’m happy for them! I saw their kitties as well.

My last night at Gary’s and we were up til 11 chatting and watching shows he likes. Mouse slept with me kind of. I packed the next morning quickly had breakfast, shipped a portrait of myself that my friend Ron had painted and said my good byes. No tears this time, no hard goodbyes, just knowing everyone’s ok is nice.

Jim picked me up at the metro, we went to lunch and then he dropped me off at BWI. Again no hard goodbyes, but a strong hug and smile from my friend.

It was a great trip to DC, it was cold at times… but it was nice to see friends and family… I imagine I’ll have to go back again in 6 months or so…

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DC Bound

This morning I’m boarding a flight for Washington DC. I’m very excited to see a lot of people and one cat:

Mouse

Danny (I had to put him first he has issues 🙂 )

Suzanne

Gary

Jim

Ana

Ian

Cynthia

Matthew

Jason

Laura

Steve

Steve

Steve

Al

Mano

and at the same time I am dreading going back – Washington DC has become like a trip to Wisconsin for me – rush rush rush rush rush rush… everyone wants to see me and I can’t see everyone – popularity breeds contempt… right?

I’m also picking up my portrait that my friend Ron painted of me, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet.

The most important part is I’ll get to eat my salad again!

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Are There Options?

When I started my first factory job I was 18, I didn’t do too well in school – drinking and drugging kept me out of class and unable to care – and factory jobs seemed the logical choice to feed my addictions. I was fired from a job where I worked at plastic molding injection machines I think because I was often late and fell asleep in the lunch room too long a few times. Another job I left for another job and that’s how that goes… when you’re young and stupid. Somehow or other I ended up in Winona MN at a silkscreen printing company, they printed on plastic bottles and I was a catcher – I would catch the bottles as they came off the conveyor belt, inspect them for ink in the wrong places (meaning there was a hole in one of the screens) and pack them nice and tight in boxes – a very easy job to do and the mechanics who set the screens were not too happy with my vision – I could see the tiniest of spots that didn’t belong – for a brief time back then I was wearing bifocals.

8066692-cog-wheels-work-pattern-seamless-by-vertical[I’m sitting here at the computer trying to figure out how I got to those jobs back in the late 80s… I didn’t have a car or a license and they weren’t right across the street – I actually can’t recall where Northern Engraving was but I remember where the other one was but can’t recall the name – the longer time goes the less I can retain I guess]

Those jobs paid well for the time and place and each job paid a little more than the other. When I had been there 3 months they’d offer me health care and i’d start to accumulate vacation and such… and I think I’d get a little raise to help offset the cost of those benefits. Now my memory isn’t what it used to be – see the little side note above, but I think that makes a hell of a lot of sense…. Hell it’s even more sense for a company to pay for health insurance for all their employees – keep them well and they’ll be able to work harder, longer, better… right? Continue reading

The Sabotage Of American Democracy

yes, this… all of it

The Dish

Negotiations Continue On Capitol Hill One Day Before Debt Limit Deadline

I suppose I shouldn’t in any way be shocked by the extraordinarily vehement attitude of Tea Party Republicans after they nearly destroyed the US and global economy. And yet I am somewhat grateful I can still be shocked by a column on Fox News’ website. Here’s how it starts:

American taxpayers have once again been trampled by establishment Republicans – a thundering herd of chicken-hearted Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) galloping to the Left. The debt ceiling deal struck between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is a victory for President Obama and Democrats. ObamaCare is still the law of the land. The government is still spending money it does not have. And thousands of government workers just got a two-week vacation courtesy of the taxpayers.

Let’s take the last three disappointments/wishes from the non-chicken-hearted.

“ObamaCare is still the law of the land.”

Yes…

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Weird Funeral Experiences

I read a lot of different blogs and read random things that I find on the internet – WordPress helps by giving me suggestions for blogs that have similar themes ore that are comparable to ones I’ve favorited.

dead dead, mostly dead ...probably

dead dead, mostly dead …probably

I read this blog piece the other day and commented on it:

The Wednesday Question: What was the Weirdest Experience you  had at at Funeral

Continue reading

Keep It Clean

This isn’t going to be a warm and fuzzy post full of nice things or cute animals… ok, here’s a cute animal….

cute animal

cute animal

but after this it really becomes a TMI post and you probably don’t want to continue reading… that was your last chance… Continue reading

Weird Ol Jamezovich

Sometimes I rewrite famous songs – ala Weird Al … I’ve been doing this for a long, long time. The first song I ever did like this (well that I performed anywhere) was George Michael’s I Want Your Sex which I did as I Want Your Socks and had a laundry basket with real laundry too onstage at G-E-T High and then got a job singing in a band. I don’t recall all the lyrics, but I remember it went well and was one of the criteria the music teacher used to get me a “letter” in music… not a goal I had in high school.

the hats for the song

the hats for the song

Recently here at work we had a special person move to the east coast and had a farewell lunch for her at Humble Pie (local restaurant – good pizza) and I rewrote Don McLean’s American Pie to bye bye at Humble Pie Continue reading