Now I’m 46

Another year has come and gone – this one seemed to go by very quickly for me. I had a lot going on, many changes began here and continued.

I left Alcoholics Anonymous

It was a while in the making. I finally saw the inner workings of the service side of AA, what I assumed would be the most spiritual was the most sick I guess. It seemed all anyone wanted was what they wanted, not what was best for AA as a whole. So to me I had lost a second part of the triangle, the one I believed in most – Service. Between that and the “fake it til you make it” dishonesty in an honesty program. I’m really an atheist and cannot swallow what others do in its entirety. Don’t miss it, gives me lots of free time and less to be resentful at. I did go to a meeting with Flo when I was in Albuquerque but that was for him, I was just along. No one from AA has really reached out to me asking me about it – some have said they want to leave too, so that’s interesting. Continue reading

Normally Do Not Mix

I was thinking today of my friends (especially Suzanne, it’s her birthday) in the world and how incredibly varied they all are. Not all of my friends are in 12 step programs but I think being in a 12 step program has made it easier for me to become friends with a wide array of people. Going to a meeting you will likely run into a gamut of characters – bikers, politicians, house wives, students and divas to name a few. We all manage to get along as we have a common solution, a common peril that unites us. We stand together or we fall alone – it’s been proven to be true – this 80-year-old program changed more than just the lives of Alcoholics, it’s changed the world. (the book made the Library of Congress’s top 100 books that changed America LINK)

12 step programs not only make members better… they somehow transform those around them into people members can tolerate. 🙂 I kid, I kid… If you work the 12 steps the result is intended to be “an entire psychic change”, some say a “spiritual awakening”. That entire psychic change is a pretty marvelous thing in my experience – it made me a different person, some argue that drugs and alcohol hid the real person, but I’m not sure. What it did do was fill my life with some really wonderful people who I don’t just tolerate… i need them, they fill holes in my brain and turn calamity to calm.

“WE are average Americans. All sections of this country and many of its occupations are represented as well as many political, economic, social, and religious backgrounds. We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful.” Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, Chapter 2, There is a Solution, p 17

Continue reading

Happy Birthday “Book Of Jamez” – 10 Years

Ten years ago today I started blogging. I started this site out on Blogger and moved it to WordPress when I changed my name as there were issues with changing my email address and linking it to the site. I average about 5 posts a month – sometimes I post up to 15 stories a month, sometimes only 2 – depending on what I’m willing to put out there.

One of the first stories I blogged was …and it sold comics where I talked about death and dying in comic books and how Supergirl’s death back in the 80s was a significant moment for me. But I went on to talk about the seeming resurrection of all heroes and how it’s just used for sales purposes instead of a good story that touches the heart. I recently cancelled my comic subscription box at the store as both DC and Marvel apparently used up all their ideas and are retelling stories and undoing some of those changes that kept me reading about characters. If they get done with Secret Wars and Convergence in the near future and stories aren’t too complicated to figure out again I’ll start reading them again, but it’s just a mess.

I also wrote about a trip to visit my good friend Julie in Cleveland OH in the story Fish Pride. She had left DC and moved and I missed her (still do, she’s pretty great). I should go visit again – that was ten years ago and her kids are almost all grown up now. Julie actually lived in Phoenix once upon a time and really liked it here.

It was the year I quit smoking too – I was often complaining about the smell of smokers after that – still today it’s just nasty to be in an elevator or to kiss one (I no longer date/fuck/make out with smokers no matter what). I was bitching about one of those things that I used to love to do… and I had only been smoke free 6 months when I wrote Ex Smokers Soap Box.

I went back to college in 2005 and wrote a lot about classes and shared stories I wrote for school. Many months there were 15 – 18 posts a month. Some great things that I wrote that I still love are Foster Home, Race for the Cure, Creepy Guy on the Bike, and My Knuckles are White – I think I’m a little calmer driving now after two years of living in Phoenix.

I write a lot of stories because I like writing – I love getting the thoughts that are running through my head down on virtual paper and sometimes other people like what I have to write – sometimes they don’t. Whether it’s liked or not I have to get it out of my head – once it’s been put down here I can move on to something else. I don’t publish everything here, somethings are inappropriate and some items I’m working on long term hoping that they become something eventually.

To all my readers new and old thanks for taking a look – I’m going to keep on doing this thing until my fingers don’t work anymore.

Happy 80th AA

IMG_1384I was thinking today

About the 80th birthday of AA

How much has changed from the days of old

When they’d lock us up or leave us in the cold

Back in Akron is where it came from

Two men started a journey

a movement that changed the world

one alcoholic talking to another

one hand reaching out to the hopeless

how more than one hundred men have recovered from alcoholism

that’s what the cover page on our book read all those years ago

now the hundreds are men and women and millions more

Once, a lifetime ago for some of us,

we didn’t care about anyone but ourselves

now we seek out others to help, only giving of ourselves

A power greater than yourself

Your own conception of “God”

That’s all that is necessary to make a beginning…

Well, and maybe an open mind

I have 21 years of sobriety

It doesn’t seem a possibility

That the man I am today

Could even be alive this way

Today, and every day

I reach out my hand

Think about the other man

Share what was so freely given to me

So another might be free

Ding! 44

I dinged Saturday, turned 44. Don’t feel any different, probably won’t for the rest of em either. I started receiving birthday wished a day early and a co-worker even saran wrapped my cubicle items… was a good day. Friday night took a nap after work – forgot to turn off my phone, so it was a short nap – friends calling to wish me a happy birthday (for my 40th birthday I was awakened by someone on the east coast around 3 a.m. when I was in Hawaii, you think I’d have learned to turn that thing off).

Saturday morning sleeping in – forgot to turn off my phone again… so there you go – self-imposed crisis I could neither postpone nor evade.

I did what I wanted to do for my birthday – not much of anything. Video games, comic books, spicy food… naps. yeah, I had a good day. next year though I think I’ll return to Fort Lauderdale, I miss being there for my birthday.

Anyway, here we go starting another year of my life. This past year was much better than the previous – has a lot to do with the new sponsor and a lot to do with the new job, both are things that have helped me immensely. Here’s to continuing on that path.

10 Days of Whine

My 42nd year is coming to an end. In ten days it’s my birthday… I don’t really want to be anything except 42, I liked it. After all 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything…  I guess all things must change or die – hard choice that one. I think I’ll be 42.A for this birthday, I’ll ask my math friends (I have some, really I do) if there are clever mathematic equations that look cooler than 42.A.

Typically for my birthday I would head to a warm destination, sit by a pool and do nothing. Now I live in a warm destination (supposedly – it’s only 46 out this morning) and I don’t know anyone with a heated pool. I’m not flying anywhere, not likely having any fancy meals or doing anything.  In past years instead of gifts I’ve asked for people to donate to charity, sometimes I even picked the charity to give for my birthday. I had all I needed and there seemed little need for more things.

Now though, it’s been tough. I’m struggling financially, juggling things around and stressing out about it – I’m not supposed to do that anymore ( fear of economic insecurity will leave us ) and I know I can get rid of that fear, but it seems I keep asking and it’s still there. I’m taking action about the money thing – trying to find other income streams and cutting back on costs of a few things I can live without. I’m weighing all my options which is going to lead to more change before too long.

There was a leak in my patio door and rain seeped into my bedroom – half the carpet was wet when I awoke the next morning. Every article of clothing in the bedroom closet was wet. Several books I had out are warped from the moisture. For four days a blower was in my room drying things out. Yesterday they came and cleaned the carpets, now the carpet was wet the entire bedroom. I’ve had fans blowing in there all night and I slept on the couch for the fifth night. I’m going to have to rewash everything and take the dress clothes to the dry cleaner again.

I’m letting someone else’s fear and paranoia affect me and make me paranoid and distrustful and damn if that isn’t a horrible place to be. It’s contagious and I’m acting on those fears out of instinct. Fear is not a nice place to live and I don’t like having it around me. I think about when I was drinking and using, how I’d go to bed at night (or early morning) and just lie there thinking about all the horrible things that were coming to pass or that I had done and just lie there not sleeping . I don’t have that, the fear isn’t that bad I can still go to bed and in moments fall blissfully asleep, for which I’m thankful. But I find myself dwelling more than I should about the future, the present and people that I have no control over. 

The cost of the recent dental procedure wasn’t covered by my dental insurance at all, I wish Obamacare would have effected all insurances, so I had to do a dental credit plan with them. The recent surgery I’ve only gotten a bill for $20 so far, I hope that’s it but I bet that too will be bigger before to long.

I’m still new here, but at meetings several people in recent weeks have come up to me and talked to me like I’m a newcomer… I’m patient with them and listen intently to their suggestions about how to stay sober. A part of me wonders why they can’t tell that I’ve been around a long time – it’s the fear I think. It’s the worry that I show on my face, newcomers have fear all the time, but I’m not supposed to. There is a guy, Chris, that goes to meetings that I do and he brings his Big Book with him, (refreshing change) and he reads along when they read HIW or the Promises and he reads when people annoy him, lol, I need to bring my book but I fear I’d read it all  through the meeting. I’m still looking for a “Home Group”, I get close sometimes, but I haven’t found that meeting that I really want to be at yet.. I miss my DC home group and those folks quite a bit.

So it’s almost my birthday, please send money, job opportunities, or a rich handsome man my way (he could even have bad breath and chew his toenails).

42 to Las Vegas

If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr or Facebook or Four Square (there might be too many of these social networking sites) you probably already know what I did for my birthday trip. If you don’t you can find out here, even those of you that think you know what all I did might want to read along as I didn’t get to express everything in photos and hashtags.

Flat Pat and Suzanne

This summer I had asked my two best friends Suzanne and Pat to go with me on this trip, but circumstances didn’t allow for that to happen so I made them into Flat Pat and Flat Suzanne ala Flat Stanley and Flat Stella Fame.

I left Wednesday December 5th from Washington National Airport, the day before I had tried to check in on my Delta app on my phone but it wouldn’t work – when I checked in online I discovered that it was a Delta Flight operated by Alaska Airlines. That was a new airline for me but they gave me Delta miles for the trip so it’s all good. Nothing different about the plane really – but the crew were all, or at least appeared to be, Native American. The flight was uneventful – a little turbulence, a few screaming babies and lots of BO. We landed in LAX in enough time, deplaned and made it to the gate with plenty of time – the connection was delayed of course so we sat at the gate (not on the plane) for an hour extra I’d say. While waiting I noticed ZZ Top was in our waiting area, several people were bothering them and I tried not to stare too much. Once on the plane I asked Billy Gibson to pose with Flat Pat and Flat Suzanne and he did! wow, cool guy.

ZZ Top is cool

ZZ Top is cool

Landing in Las Vegas was normal, the lady taxi cab drivers daughter’s birthday was also December 6, that was pretty cool. I arrived safely at the Tuscany Suites and checked into my room (G203).  It was around four I was hungry and made dinner reservations at the hotel’s Italian restaurant. I gambled a little and was in bed by 9 (I had been up since 5 East Coast time).

I was up early on my birthday, December 6, and had pork chops and eggs at the hotel’s 24 hour restaurant (bad coffee, bad pork chops, and undercooked eggs – there is a region difference when you ask someone to make you eggs over easy, I’ve found that here in DC and apparently in this little restaurant over easy means something different than it does in WI, very undercooked so in the future if I ordered there again I’d order eggs over medium, but I digress). Then I sat in the hot tub for a good while – but the pool was too cold to sit in (its advertised as heated, but I doubt it was) and tried to take a nap, but it didn’t take. I walked down to the strip and then through Caesars shops and I did spend a good while liking posts on my Facebook wall and responding to emails and texts from friends and family.

Thursday afternoon my date arrived and we CENSORED…. before getting dressed and going off to see the Cirque Du Soleil show Ka at the MGM Grand. I was very excited to see it and had gotten tickets a while back. First things first, we were about 12 rows back from the stage and I think I would have rather been at least 25 rows back. I had a lot of preconceived notions about the show that didn’t materialize, but still enjoyed it immensely. I also think we were seated right near some speakers and it was very loud (you kids get off my lawn). Glad I saw it but would have likely enjoyed the Beatles Love more.

Then we went to our dinner reservation at Craftsteak also at the MGM Grand. Craftsteak is a Tom Colicchio, of TopChef,  restaurant. I had Organic Lettuce with Lemon Vinaigrette, Ribeye steak and Fingerling Potatoes followed up with the Farmers Market Fruit (consisting of Blueberry, Blackberry, Dates, Clementine, Dragon Fruit, Figs, Finger Lime, Kiwi, Passion Fruit, Pear, Persimmon, Pomegranates, and Raspberry)

Farmers Market Fruit

Farmers Market Fruit

OMG so delicious… all of it. I really can’t express in words how flavorful, beautiful and just all around great this was for my birthday dinner. The kicker for me was the painted cows on the walls – it reminded me of the cow that visited the crew at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe and I was certain I’d eaten one of the cows that was on the wall. It was the perfect place to have a 42 Birthday dinner. Quite expensive, worth every dollar. My date dropped me off with a kiss and he was on his way, it was a nice day for a birthday.

Friday morning I tried to have breakfast with my friend Danny and new friend Larry but they wanted to hear a speaker and I really need breakfast to function properly…. after breakfast I met them in the banquet hall for the end of “AA History” then we had a decent break and heard “How to live with crazy people”. Most of the rest of the talks that weekend were on steps. Two of the speakers on the original schedule didn’t make it for personal reasons.

Danny being silly

Danny being silly

I had a few meals with Danny and Larry one at P.F. Changs and one at CheeseCake Factory.

Overall my room was ok, it was very big and had two double beds. It had a decent shower and a tub. The TV did make static like noises ever few minutes for some reason and there was a high pitch beep every 5 or ten minutes that would last a minute too. The staff was nice and efficient.

I was in the gift shop looking over the shoulders of a few women in front of me at the available snacks. One of the women noticed me and apologized for being in my way – I assured her I was fine and just trying to decide which nuts to buy. Her eyes lit up and she asked if I wanted some peanuts. I said I usually get almonds. She then started to talk about these peanuts and how good they were, pulled them out of her purse opened them up and said that I would really love them and proceeded to pour a nice sized handful in my hand. They were pretty good peanuts, very crunchy. But I think it was weird to have a woman give you a handful of nuts in a gift store…

At lunch with Danny and Larry at the CheeseCake Factory we were carrying on and a woman next to us kept looking at us and smiling. We started to talk to her, seems she was also at the conference. It was a nice lunch and we made a new friend.

Some of the folks at our table for the conference included an ex-prison guard, a guy who moved from Florida to Alaska a few years ago (he did it on purpose) and a newcomer who wouldn’t shut up that I wanted to inflict physical harm upon. Great fun.

I played some roulette at the casino and while I didn’t win, I certainly enjoyed it. One woman came up to the table, put $100 on black,which hit and she then walked away with $200 – smart lady.

I met a nice guy named MiMichael from England who was there at the conference, hope to hear from him soon.

There were folks from the Chippewa Valley that made it to this conference as well: Mary Jo, Michelle, Al S and two other fellas. That was nice to see too.

Monday I was up bright and early for my flight, I had heard that there were horrible long lines at the Las Vegas Airport as it turns out it was pretty empty and before I knew it I was at my gate for my flight to Memphis (one stop). Even before we landed in Memphis I had received an email that my connecting flight would be delayed an hour, by the time our flight landed I received a few more emails and a voicemail. The updates and delays went as far as a five hour delay but ended up being only three hours, thankfully. The Delta agent was quite nice posing for a photo with Flat Pat and Flat Suzanne as well.

Delta Guy and my delayed flight

Delta Guy and my delayed flight

I arrived home around 8:30 or so, Mouse was here waiting for me at the door and was a loving purr machine for a few minutes before remembering I had left her and then she was a bit more aloof. This morning she loves me once again. I have the best roommate, Gary, who takes care of her sometimes when I’m away.

All in all, it was a great birthday trip, but I think next year I’ll be happier lying by a pool in Ft Lauderdale like normal.

Happy 42!