Friday, March 30, 2007

Shards of My Tooth

I was peacefully munching on a Trail Mix bar (breakfast) this morning when it happened. I knew that the "tell-tale" crunch in my mouth was very distinctly uncharacteristic of the usual consistency of my Trail Mix bars.

And I knew what that meant. Somewhere in my mouth were the remains of a tooth. So I did my usual "tongue-filtering", carefully prodding the chewage in my mouth and segregating the suspected pieces of tooth off to one side where I could pick them off of my tongue for placement, and further inspection, on an unfolded napkin on my desktop.

The damage was worse than I thought. It was an incisor, not some backwater molar I could begnignly neglect for days/weeks/months/deathbed. It was right there in front, where the whole world could see it and instantly judge me to be some Hillbilly from the Piedmont.

And that would not do, indeed. So I called my dentist.

I have been seeing my dentist since his girls were, well, since they were girls. The eldest starts med school in the Fall. Jerry and I go way back. I could find a cheaper dentist in New Jersey, but it's unlikely I will ever find another dentist who will happily give up a Saturday to trek into the office from Connecticut in order to make a post for my new crown, or who would hastily re-organize his entire Friday schedule to fit me in for a one and a half hour dental fiasco, or who would send out one of his assistants to pick up a hastily phoned-in prescription for antibiotics which I'm required to take before any dental work can be done.

Dr. Jerry is that kind of a guy. And I believe in being loyal to a man who has saved my mouth from excruciating pain one more than one occasion over the last 20 years.

So I called the office and they said, "C'mon down at 12:30." I carefully reassembled, to the best of my ability, the shards of my tooth and scotch-taped the reassembled dental relic to a paper napkin. I arrived at his office at 12:30, there was much fuss because I hadn't "pre-medicated" with the antibiotic (it's hard to pre-medicate for an emergency -- I must remember to try to organize this better the next time it happens), which finally got straightened out and, at 2:15 I was discharged back into the world with a lovely temporary crown that you can't tell from the real deal.

As I said, Jerry will give up his Saturday to come in and make the post (it's Titanium), and I'll seem him again next Thursday at 4:00 to implant the post and make the impression for the crown.

Luckily for me, we never got around to the subject of the great gaping hole in my gum on the right side of my mouth, where that inflamed crown was ripped out last December (remember that?!)

We play this little game, Jerry and I do.

It's kind of like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." If I don't bring the subject up, he'll act like nothing's the matter.

I like that in a doctor!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oh, Ya Gotta have Friends...

Yeah, I know. How gay is that for a title? Bette Midler's old rendition immediately comes to mind.

But I'm not going to talk about Gay Icons today. Someday I might tell you about seeing Bette doing "Clams on the Half-Shell" on B'way back in the early 80's. Maybe. If you're lucky.

No, today I'm going to talk about my friend, Bob. Bob works in IT someplace. It would be a disservice to Bob to say anything more about that, or about Bob at all, really, except to say that Bob is a true-blue friend. Bob's the kind of friend you'd come out of a blackout and find sitting beside you, both handcuffed to the bench in the police station. The kind of friend who'd look at you and say, "DAMN! THAT WAS FUN!!!!"

The kind of friend who'd happily drag himself out of bed at 3 in the morning to help you bury a body. No questions asked.

As I've whined about before, I've been living in a computerless wilderness at home for the past few weeks. My PC, such as it is, sits under the computer stand, lifeless and drab amongst the various piles of cables, many of them unused but God only knows they might come in handy some day so why bother picking them up now and finding God only knows what underneath of them!

But the noose is closing and action must be taken. The Feds (and New York and New Jersey) are fully expecting me to file my tax returns soon. And I can't do that as long as I have a dead PC in my living room. Something MUST be done. I found a solution (I think) on the internet. It involves ordering another drive (a 500Gigabyte beauty), buying something called "Partition Magic" and trying to find something with which I could boot the machine so I can "see" both an NTFS drive AND a FAT 32 drive. That's so I can copy my old files off my old, dying drive onto my zippy new one.

I scoured the internet for days (at work whenever I had a moment) and the common solution seemed to be in products I never heard of, such as DR-DOS 7.3 and other things like that.

And then it struck me! My friend Bob works in IT. I'll bet HE knows where I can get a boot disk. So I sent him an e-mail and quietly prayed.

And hour or so later I got his reply. He has exactly what I need and will happily lend me a copy of it to get me through my current woes.

I am SAVED, once again, by friendship. In this case, by my friendship with Bob.

There was a time in my life when I, if I'd been diagnosed with brain cancer, would've felt compelled to learn how to perform do-it-yourself surgery by next Thursday in order to have fixed the problem myself.

I thought, as one does when growing up in an alcoholic family, that everything had to be figured out for myself because I did not dare ask for help or, in any other way, "disturb" the undisturbable, suffering souls at home. I did not know that it was "okay" to ask for help. That that's what Earth-Children did. And Earth-Adults, too.

I found this out in recovery.

Every day I find myself becoming more and more like my life's dream. Every day I keep getting closer and closer to being...


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Eva Milbauer

I mentioned Eva Milbauer in my blog yesterday. She taught chemistry (and God knows what else) at Henry C. Conrad High School in Woodcrest, Delaware during my high school years (1963-1966).

I didn't actually take any classes with Mrs. Milbauer, but somehow or other we connected and we started talking to each other, outside of class.

I used to hide out in her chem lab storeroom with her during our lunch hour and we would talk about all kinds of things. I had a feeling there was one thing about me that if I could only work up the nerve to mention, she wouldn't think ill of me for it. That, of course, was the fact that I was... er... different.

Looking back there were probably lots of gay teachers at Conrad. God knows the lady gym teachers were all candidates for the Sisterhood of Lesbos and there were several English teachers (male) who were highly suspect. But even though my fledgling "gaydar" was picking up those blips on my adolescent screens, it was only Eva whom I thought, if I could only work up the nerve, would embrace me and tell me, "There, there. It's perfectly all right. You are not a freak of nature."

That woman really knew how to pay it forward.

In the years after high school I oftened wondered how she was doing. I never felt that way towards any other teacher I'd ever met. None of my catholic school teachers had ever encouraged me to "think." They had only encouraged me to memorize and regurgitate facts upon demand. Facts as determined by the Holy See, of course.

But Eva encouraged me to think for myself. It made me feel giddy, as though I were almost being heretical, by questioning things which had previously been unquestionable.

Looking back on it, she might well have gotten fired for her subversive activities with a few, select, students whom she'd taken a shine to, including me.

But I knew how to keep my mouth shut about such things. Hell, by the time I was sixteen, I was an expert at keeping secrets. Everybody else's and most especially mine.

By sixteen, in order to keep secrets and NOT be held in contempt of the sacraments, I had simply foregone the sacraments. The church and I had parted company sometime around the time of my confirmation. Within a year of that event I was no longer a participant in the rites of Holy Mother Church.

What I lost in terms of "salvation" via Rome, I gained in salvation in terms of my ability to think for myself. However, it would be many, many years before the groundwork that Eva laid, starting in 1965, would bear fruit in my sober years. But it was absolutely worth the wait.

So here's to you, Eva Milbauer, wherever you are! Thank you for caring when no one else did!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Paying it Forward

The concept is easy, good works beget good works. It ain't brain surgery. This all came up because of my friend Bev's blog from yesterday, which you can read "here." She mentions a young woman who took up the theater because she was inspired by Bev's kids who, in turn, had been inspired by others.

It got me to thinking about my own life. You see, for many years... nay, for most of my life, I'd always thought of myself as "a person of no consequence." Growing up in an alcoholic family, my existence mattered for little, other than an inconvenience in the lives of others. I always felt like "the tolerated guest" in their lives. Something they endured. A reminder of their past mistakes. A person of no consequence. My needs or feelings counted for nothing. It was all about them. I'm not saying this in a self-pitying way. They were very sick people who didn't know any better and, all things considered, it could've been a lot worse. I wasn't beaten or starved.

Anyway, I grew up to believe that nothing I did or said or needed or wanted mattered. To anyone. It, literally, never occured to me that my actions or words had an impact on others. The first inkling I ever had that I MIGHT have a place in the world came in high school when the chemistry teacher, Mrs. Milbauer, actually talked to me like I was a human being.

It enthralled me that she never spoke down to me. She treated me like I was an interesting person who had worthwhile things to say. To this day it makes me want to cry to think about that.

The next inkling I got that I might have some sort of impact on others came in college while doing summer theater. It was 1974 and we were doing "Damn Yankees", "Death of a Salesman" and "Hotel Paradiso" in nightly rotating stock. One day one of my college roomies, who was also in the summer theater company, and I were at the supermarket, picking up stuff for dinner when, suddenly, a woman in the pasta section starting gushing, out loud, about having seen us in the show (Yankees) the night before. "I saw YOU..... AND YOU...." she said loudly, pointing at us accusingly. "You were WONDERFUL!!!!"

Who knew? Oh, sure, the audience applauded wildly when we came out for our bows... oh, and they laughed their heads off at us during the show, but to have someone in REAL LIFE come up and tell us (me) how much something I had done meant to her... well, it was a revelation.

Flash forward to 2000. It'd been a long time since I'd fleetingly felt like a person of consequence.

I'd been told by my first 12-Step sponsor that there would come a time when someone I didn't know would let me know how much of an impact I'd had on them. But I still wasn't quite prepared for the aftermath of it.

I'd been sober for two years at that point. I'd gone out on a lot of speaking commitments to other 12-Step groups in my first two years of my sobriety and shared my experience, strength and hope with them many dozens of times. I'd done this from one end of New Jersey to the other. Then, one night, it happened. After a meeting someone I didn't know came up to me and introduced himself. He smiled and said, "I heard you before. A year and a half ago at the [location deleted] meeting on Saturday night. I'll never forget it. I had two weeks sober at that point and was feeling really bad about myself until you spoke. It made a complete difference in my life. Thank you!"

Those experiences in high school and college had been ego-feeding propositions. But this experience was different. I felt humbled. My straight from the heart story had made a difference in the life of someone who was struggling to get sober.

That experience has been repeated several times over the last nine years. And it's never lost it's impact on me.

I've also had the experience of telling others the same thing. That their stories had transformed my life.

These days I really understand what it means to "pay it forward." I try to live my whole life that way. I'm not always successful. I fail a lot. But I definitely try.

It's the best way I know how to live.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Western Digital and Me

When all was said and done, the Geek Squad finally determined that my C: drive is failing. They cheerfully offered to have Best Buy sell me a new drive which they would overcharge me to install. I thanked them and told them I'd be by tonight (Thursday, 3/22) to pick up my CPU and restore disks (I had the presence of mind to actually make the Restore DVDs that Sony recommended I make when I first uncrated this monster).

So now I'm busily shopping the internet for the latest and greatest in mass storage (Serial-ATA). It appears that Western Digital makes a real honey of a 500Gbyte drive which, after rebates, would set me back about $145.00.

I should be flabbergasted at that figure. No, no, not the $$$ figure, the Gigatonnage figure. My first PC on Wall Street (an XT) had a 5mbyte drive. My next PC, an AT, had a whopping 20mbyte drive which promptly died after two weeks use. That's when I was introduced to the wonderful world of third party manufacturers.

And so it went. My first network had a couple of 80mbyte drives. Then a resounding 150mbytes followed by 300mybte (I thought I'd NEVER fill that baby up!)

All of those drives cost small fortunes when they were new. Now I can get a half a Terabyte for little more than chump-change. A half a terabyte. That's 90 DVD's, with room left over for most of my music collection.

With nearly every living room/den in America currently hosting some equally well-endowed behemoth, churning away at GigaHertz speeds, connected to the internet, and the world, via the cable or phone company at blazing BroadBand speeds, it's a wonder we haven't cured everything by now. It seems like everybody has a copy of everything ever said or done within arms length.

Do they still actually print The Encyclopaedia Brittanica? Why do they bother? Things change too fast to be put down in print anymore.

I was in on the ground-floor of this whole thing. Not the same ground-floor as the gang at Xerox in Palo Alto, back in the 60's (they invented "the mouse" and the "graphical user interface", i.e. Windows), but the ground floor that took the personal computer from the workbenches of the geeks and put them on the trading desks of Wall Street. I was part and parcel of the ground floor that made it "okay" for corporate America to spend big bucks on "video games" in order to give them a competitive edge over their rivals and boosted firms like Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and dozens of others into the rarified stratosphere of today's multi-billion dollar brokerage and banking houses.

I was in on that ground floor. At the beginning.

Yet, today, I open the lid on my PC and I'm pretty much clueless as to what's going on inside.

But I can still install a hard drive AND get it to boot up.

So take THAT, Geeks!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Geek Squad Sucks

I hope somebody from Geek Squad googles this and gets embarrassed. They should be embarrassed. They've had my computer for a week and a half and done absolutely nothing with it.

I "dropped by" Best Buy Sunday afternoon to see what was up. They'd had it a whole week at that point. They told me that I was probably going to exceed the 9 gigabyte backup limit, so I told 'em to 86 (nix) the backup and to just diagnose the damn thing.

Then I visited the Mega-LCD HDTV department and drooled over the latest 1080p sets and then went home to my computerless apartment.

It's now Wednesday morning and I've heard nothing. How hard can it be to determine if it's a software glitch (most likely) or a hardware problem?

How busy are these people?

Meanwhile, I'm neglecting the important things in life, such as my blog. It's hard to find time during my workday to do it without feeling as though I'm stealing from my employer.

I'm also neglecting that all-important porno-download time.

There is some upside to it. I cleaned the lower level of the computer desk. It was loaded with dust bunnies and extraneous cables which hadn't been used in years. It actually looks tidy down there now.

There's no point in them getting it magically fixed today. The earliest I can get it now is tomorrow night, after work. I have a commitment tonight (another speaking engagement at a 12-Step meeting).

And there's no point in getting it this coming weekend, either. I'm going to Baltimore to visit friends. We're going to see the Washington Gay Men's Chorus production of "The Wizard of Oz" (which I'm sure my friend Bev will want a detailed report about when I get back) Saturday night.

Plans for summer vacation are coming along nicely. We're going to do a week on Cape Cod the 2nd week of July. That'll be with my friends in Baltimore and one other friend from New York. I won't even slow down on the drive home from that. I'll keep heading south, straight (well, "directly") to Rehoboth Beach (whence I recently was for that Roundup I talked about a couple of weeks back) to spend the first part of the week with my sister and her crew in a beach house that they're renting, after which I'll check into a gay bordello, er, b&b for the remainder of the week, which will round out my two week summer fling very nicely.

Thus is my life. And a very nice life it is, too.

Now if I could just get my damned computer back....


Follow-up. 1 hour later.

They called, of course. It's not hardware. The only solution is to re-install Windows. I told them I'd come collect it tomorrow night. Sometime in the next week I'll back up the C: drive myself and re-install everything.

Or, maybe I'll just buy a new C: drive (like 500Gbytes) and do a fresh install on it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Glad to be Me!

I took Friday off. I had booked it off a while ago because an acquaintance of mine asked me to speak at a 12-Step meeting upstate at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. That would've involved getting up at 5:15 or so to shower, shave, etc., and then driving 90 minutes to the sleepy little burg of Saddle River, NJ.

Instead, though, the guy who invited me to speak also threw in an invitation to come spend the night at the home of he and his partner, and they'd throw a little dinner party for me, too. They live in Saddle River, which is one of the ritziest areas of NJ. I couldn't wait to see how the upper crust really lives.

What they (and I) didn't bargain for was the slushie-storm from Hell that descended on the Northeast Thursday night and which lasted straight through Friday, well into the pre-dawn hours on Saturday.

So I found myself slogging up the NJTurnpike, mostly at 35 miles per hour, behind every wimpy driver on the East Coast. If you've ever checked out my personal data here, you're sure to have noticed that I'm leaning up against a Honda Element. What you can't tell from the photo, though, is that it has 4-wheel drive and that it's a stick (5-speed). A little nasty weather isn't going to slow me (or it) down.

However, a quarter of a million slow-moving vehicles will.

I left my house around 2:00 and FINALLY rolled into my destination in Saddle River around 5:00 p.m. After much dawdling, my host and I finally struck out for the supermarket around 6:00. I think we all arrived at the house around 7:00 p.m. Meanwhile somebody ran out to pick somebody else up and they didn't get back until around 8:00. Dinner, I think, was finally served around 10:00. This all seemed very "normal" to everybody else, so I didn't make a fuss about it. But between the pretentious conversation and Uber-Male posturing between two of the guys there (there were a total of 4 of us), I was worn out and thoroughly unimpressed with the whole evening, my hosts and the 4th guest.

I couldn't wait to get to bed, get up, get my commitment over with and to go home.

So that's exactly what I did.

After the commitment was over, around 8:30, I dug my car out and lit out for the Garden State Parkway. It was a slushy mess, but at least it was moving (at 70 mph). I got home around 11:00 a.m. The car is covered in dried salt and is probably rusting away, even as I type. With any luck it'll rain this week.

I've had better weekends. I've had worse. But I've learned two things.

1. I'm glad I'm single or, at the least, not hitched to some boringly pretentious queen.

2. Thank God I'm not rich, otherwise I'd have to spend all my time worrying about that, too.

I am truly grateful to be exactly who I am.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Peter Piper Picked A Pecker

The (hopefully soon-to-be erstwhile) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace, went and shot his mouth off the other day about his personal opinions.

Now as anybody who has ever been in the service will tell you, military personnel don't have personal opinions. At least, not for public consumption, they don't.

I'd be very interested in knowing whether or not he was in uniform during this interview. If he was, he may well have been in violation of DoD Directive 1344.10 (June 15, 1990) which, loosely, prohibits members of the armed forces from participating in partisan political activities while in uniform. Granted, it's targeted specifically against running for office, but you could stretch the point.

And the point really is that whether or not he meant to the CJS has used his bully pulpit much the same way that Mann Coulter used hers.

How demoralizing is it for the closeted gay troops under his command, quietly upholding THEIR end of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" bargain, to know that their ultimate military commander thinks that they are "immoral?"

How is that helpful to morale and group cohesion? Does he honestly think there are 12 gay people in the services? Does not not know that there are thousands upon thousands of gay people in the services, quietly toiling away in the service of their nation? And that, naturally, begs the question, just what fucking planet does this Bozo live on?

When crap like this happens I am always reminded of my favorite story regarding the origins of the "Don't Ask" policy. When President Clinton first proposed issuing an executive order to allow gays to serve openly, and Sam Nunn, then the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and a Georgian Democrat to boot, hit the road with his "Sam and Pony Show" to ask dumbass Bos'ns Mates what they thought of the proposed policy change, I nearly died laughing when I read about the response of one Air Force Pilot:

"If they let gays in the military, I'll resign my commission and join a civilan airline."

The theory being, I suppose, that the recreational air-travel business is a GREAT place to avoid that nasty homosexual element, currently serving drinks and snacks in coach, business and first class... and thank you for flying Continental!
But if the General did resign, what we he do for a living? I don't know what marketable skills Marine Generals have, outside of invading places. I'm sure the General is very good at invading places.... and shooting his mouth off.

Being at the top of the military pile, I don't know who gets to take the CJS to the woodshed. The SecDef, I suppose. That would be Bob Gates. I hope Bob has summoned General Peter to D.C. for a little "come to Jesus" meeting on the subject of keeping his big, fat, yap shut about his personal shit.

Just like he expects all of us Mo's in the military to do!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Gidget Lost Her Gadget!

I'm gadgetless for awhile.

The Sony VIAO at home died a week ago last Saturday. I've been nursing it along in Safe Mode for the better part of a week but finally decided, yesterday, that she needed to go "into the shop" for repairs.

Oh, I could've diddled with it some more... installed anti-spyware software, registry checkers, God only knows what else... all, ultimately, in vain. I would've wound up taking it in anyway. I lost interest in the internals of computers and operating systems around 1990. Prior to that, I was the King of the Batch Files, Master of Autoexec.bat and Config.sys, Emperor of Novell and the Great Khan of Industry Standard Architecture. Then the counterrevolutionaries from the former mainframe departments began their counterassault with Windows and I was left, properly, on the dustheap of history.

Anyway, I bought this piece of crap at Best Buy 3 Christmases ago (2004). It wasn't bad, for the price. About a grand. It had a Pentium 4 that ran about 3.6 ghz, a gig of RAM and nearly half a terabyte of disk space. Then it just up and died. No warning. I'd been using it the Friday night before it died with no problems. In fact it even did a virus scan in background while I was playing solitaire on it, and before I'd shut it down for the night. Then, Saturday morning, nada.

So, yesterday morning, I disconnected everything, got the Recovery Disks together and bundled the whole thing into the car. The lad at Geek Squad, which apparently owns a piece of the action at Best Buy these days, was funny and comforting. He appeared to know what he was doing. He whipped out a solid-state hard-drive from a chain around his neck, plugged it into one of the USB ports on the front of the machine and started to run some sort of diagnostics. The machine promptly re-booted. Apparently that didn't bode well for it being a software glitch. Anyway, they would happily take several hundred dollars from me, in advance, and then "see what they can do" which, apparently, would take at least a week.

So, here I am at the office, sick as a dog I might add, with nothing at home to entertain myself with except books, the piano, a 32" Sony flat screen tv with a DVD collection that ain't half bad and tons of junk food just a phone call away.

But I wanted to come into the office today to bang this out... because I just love you that much.

I'll be going home sick soon and might not be back for a couple of days.

Meanwhile, read my friends blogs.

And wish my dead PC luck. Or, send cash so I can buy a new one! (just kidding)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

You call this "dating?"

I have a "date" today, only neither of us is using the "d" word to describe what it is that we're doing.

My friends all think it's "dating", so I guess it is. I just don't want to jinx it by calling it that. As far as I'm concerned it's just two gay guys going into Manhattan to see a show then have dinner at a quaint little French bistro I just adore on the West Side called "Chez Napoleon." (My friend Bev will instantly attest to the quaintness of this place, since I once dragged her and Walt there, too... only that wasn't a "date", but I'm stalling, aren't I?)

Oh, alright, if two gay guys are going to be dining at a quaint little bistro AND seeing an off-Broadway show together (it's "Bill W. and Doctor Bob", about the two founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, which, by the way, has no opinion about this show, but the NYTimes critic did, and she loved it) and, I'm stalling again, aren't I?



My friend Rosemary practically beat the crap out of me yesterday morning until I admitted that it was a "date." So why am I still putting quote marks around it? Am I that afraid?


This is so stupid. It's just dinner and a show with somebody I really like, have known for at least 8 years (I met him not long after I got sober), and somebody who's a lot of fun to be around and who makes me happy and feel good inside and ....

Would it be okay to refer to him as "My Activity Partner"?
I'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Mann Coulter dropped the "F" bomb recently and there's been a lot of brouhaha about it in the press, left and right.

I have to admit that there was a time when I subscribed to the theory that if I (meaning gay people like me) "co-opted" the word and we bandied it about amongst ourselves, then it would, eventually, become drained of meaning. Or at least, drained of hurtful meaning. It would be come a joke, a badge of honor.

That's what I thought in the 70's.

I based it, primarily, on what I thought I was witnessing among gay friends of mine who happened to be black. It was my impression that they routinely referred to each other using the "N" word. "Hey, N-word" I would hear one shout across campus to another. So I thought, "Hey, why can't we do that?"

"Hey, F-word" I longed to shout across campus at a friend. Unfortunately, at the University of Delaware, circa 1974, if you yelled that across campus, 1/2 of the guys would've turned and immediately looked for a fight. Those would've been all the closest cases. The remaining 1/2 was composed of all the straights on campus (about 40%) and all the out gay guys, about 10%. The straights wouldn't have cared less and the gay guys would've simply ignored it, as they'd done since time immemorial.

Anyway, that was my theory.

Until the Repuglicans started appealing to their basest base using the time-worn tactic of fear ("the faggots are looking to teach queerness to your only son"), and the word got scary (again) to a certain, conservative, segment of the population.

Remember, the word isn't meant to be a trigger for me. It's meant to be a trigger for the base. It's specifically designed to arouse fire and hatred in the base. Mann Coulter doesn't give a rat's ass if I buy her books. She does give a rat's ass if the "base" does.

And if Mann Coulter thinks that gay people don't find the F-word offensive, she should drop by my office sometime. So I can personally bitch-slap the c*nt into next month (and that's just a school-yard taunt, so don't take it personally).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

9 Years....

Exactly 9 years ago today I had, what I hope will be, my last drink of alcohol.

I've changed a lot in 9 years. All the resentment and bitterness of the past (well, mostly) is gone. I've grown up and accepted things. Not just about myself, but about others too. I've FINALLY gotten over my childhood (an alcoholic mom and grandmom, a non-existent father). I've "dropped a lot of rocks" as they say in the recovery business, about an ex-lover, about a science fiction writer, even about Sister Francesca who may have gotten a little over-eager in her vain attempts to get me to learn Algebra in the 9th grade, to which I may have over-reacted just a teensy-weensy bit.

It's funny, now, to look back and see how deluded (and so full of self-will) I was about so many things. We alkies are a strange bunch.

For example:

Non-addicts are perfectly capable of modifying their behavior in order to achieve their goals. Addicts, however, happily modify their goals in order to achieve their behavior.

Trust me, that short paragraph makes total sense to anybody with an addiction problem.

Yes, I've experienced a lot of growth in these last 9 years. My life has gotten better "beyond my wildest dreams". When I first came into recovery my secret goal was to stay sober long enough to pay off my debts (a whopping $18,000.00) and then to die, peacefully, in a year or so.

Thank goodness my Higher Power had other plans for me.

In year 4 of my recovery I had to confront and deal with my ACOA issues (adult children of alcoholics). I spent a week at the Caron Foundation in a program they have for people dealing with that. It was a wonderful experience. Yes, and scary too.

In year 6 of my recovery I got to walk through open heart surgery which didn't bother me in the least, but scared the crap out of my close friends in recovery (my sponsor and my home group). But they got to watch ME "walk through" the fear of it, and come out the other side. My courage in the face of that gave courage to OTHERS to face their own nameless fears regarding doctors and medicine. I know of at least two people (and there were probably more) who, thanks to me, made doctors appointments because their fears were lessened by my experience.

In year 7 I had more surgery. Bi-lateral endarectomies (they cut open the arteries in your neck and scrape out the congealed cholesterol). It wasn't pretty and now, close-up, I resemble Baron von Frankentstein's High School Science Project. But I got through it!

In year 8 they gave me diabetes (because otherwise it would've been a boring year).

The point is, by publicly dealing with all this stuff, I never know whom I was affecting. For decades I thought I lived in an isolated bubble, neither being affected by, nor having any affect on, others. I thought I didn't matter, that nobody cared, that my actions were lost and meaningless. It never occured to me that other people actually cared about me and had feelings that were often hurt by me. By sharing all of my feelings about my medical experiences in recovery with others in my circle of sober friends, it lessened their fears, too.

It also increased their love and compassion for me. And vice versa.

I know so much more now than I did 9 years ago. Sometimes I think I don't, but I do.

But what I know right now is, I'm really looking forward to staying sober...

Just for today.

(thank you, God!)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Anything worth doing... etc. [Part Deux]

... one of us sprouted wings and flew over the other.


Oh, okay, maybe the bridge wasn't quite as narrow as I thought and the SUV and I managed to squeeze past each other. Whatever. We made it. Then I followed a one and a half-lane road on the PA side of the river downstream for about 4 miles at which point I was directed to drive up and over a mountain to my right which, eventually, led me out to PA 611.

Interesting thing about PA 611. It's part of the longest street in the United States of America... possibly even the world. It's Broad Street in Philadelphia which starts in south Philly and runs north for about 21 miles. That's a pretty long for a street. There's a lot of history along that route, too.

Anyway, I got up over the mountain, got lost for about 3 miles, backtracked and picked up the correct trail and suddenly found myself heading towards Doylestown where Stephen Sondheim spent his summers as a child learning how to make musical theater at the knees of Oscar Hammerstein II. My goal lay past historic Doylestown, though and I continued along 611, heading towards center city. Five miles later I arrived at my destination, yet another Unitarian Church in Warrington, PA. Naturally I was the first to arrive but, within minutes, other stalwarts started showing up and, in no time, we were rolling out banquet tables, folding chairs, serving banquets, etc. and, in three shakes of a lambs tail, VOILA!, we had the fixin's for a great evenings entertainment.

Because of the stricture against discussing what actually goes on in a 12-Step meeting (anonymity being the spiritual foundation of all 12-Step programs) I can't discuss much more, but I can tell you that a great time was had by all and, by 11:00 p.m., I was home in Hightstown and passed out in my favorite comfy chair in front of the tv.

Boy... did I need a nap!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing...

Saturday was a very looonnngggg day.

I started the day by making my signature "killer salad." That took two hours. This was for the anniversary event Saturday night. The recipe, if you call it that, starts with six, count 'em, six heads of Hearts of Romaine lettuce (loosely chopped). Other ingredients include Belgian Endive, grape tomatoes, crushed walnuts, sliced mushrooms, mandarin orange slices, a package of grated mozzarella, a package of grated carrots, two small packages of raisins and a jar or so of Marie's Caesar Salad Dressing.

Mix well and pour into one of those disposable, aluminum, turkey roasting pans, cover tightly with aluminum foil in all directions, then submerge it into ANOTHER aluminum turkey roasting pan, the bottom of which has been lined with chopped ice.

This will keep it cool while it sits in the trunk for seven hours, while you attend a wedding.

I whisked it out to the car and ran back upstairs to pull myself together for the wedding. I showered, etc., and selected a nice, bland, dress-up outfit. By 11:30 I was on the road, aiming for a 1:00 p.m. start time, somewhere in a part of New Jersey I'd never been before.

Never, EVER, trust directions from Mapquest. Oh, it was scenic, alright. And probably the most direct route... involving wagon train trails.

I got to the church just in time... to park in the muddiest part of the parking lot. I delicately tip-toed (picture the Ballet-Dancing Hippos in "Fantasia") across the swamp to the church, which was some sort of a landmark dating back to 1830 or so. Upon entering the tiny church, which looked like it would seat about 150 on a good day, I spotted the gay section over against the far wall. I did my best disco-wave towards the tribe and they all disco-waved right back and I made it a point to walk, or should I say "flounce", down the straight aisle to the back of the church, then across and up the far aisle to my part of town. I knew 3/4's of the guys there, mostly because, like me, most of them were in recovery and belonged to one 12-Step group or another.

I assumed all the straight people there were either relatives, friends of the two grooms from work, or members of the same Unitarian Congregation (where we were currently parked) as my boys.

The service started late (fashionably so, of course..) and it was lovely. The two Unitarian ministers (and it was pretty clear what THEIR story was, as well) did a great job of unifying my friends and, 20 minutes or so later, it was over. We all lined up to congratulate the guys then got our driving instructions to the reception, which was being held in the giant house of some big, ol' lesbian member of the Congregation, who had a working horse farm about five miles away. The last mile of the drive was on unimproved (read "pot-holed") roadway and it was fun watching all the Lexus's trying to navigate them, without busting an axle. My Element had no problem at all with the terrain.

Notwithstanding the size of the house, it was jammed. Fortunately they'd put food on every level surface in the place so there was no need to "queue up" in order to chow down. I found a section of the living room wall lined with tall-backed club chairs which I, and several other members of my 12-Step group, promptly comandeered and renamed "Maiden Aunts Row." It reminded me of my childhood, when all my great aunts would sit together in a row against a wall and compare their gall-bladder removal scars with each others. They'd also get rip-roaring drunk and not be talking to each other by the end of the evening. But I digress. We all just sat there and sized up the cute straight boyz, which was easy enough because there weren't too many of them.

Along about 4:30 we all decided it was time to hit the road in order to get to Warrington, Pennsylvania in time to help set up for that event (and by now, I was already pooped!)

This is where Mapquest REALLY began to shine.

You might remember from your American history that George Washington and his troops marched down the Delaware on a cold Christmas night to attack the Hessians in Trenton.

I'm pretty sure he used the same road I drove down to get across the river into Pennsylvania on Saturday night. And it hasn't been improved any since then, either. Jeezis H. Keerist, it was a 1 and a half-lane mess. The so-called bridge across the Delaware at Frenchtown is about the width of an Amish buggy (it being Amish country and all), so imagine my surprise when I saw a big-assed SUV deciding to venture out in my direction from the Pennsylvania side, as I passed the halfway mark, heading the other way!

[to be continued]

Friday, March 02, 2007

I made some modifications to the template. I hope you don't mind them but if you do, tough titties. I finally made the typeface larger. The old typeface was too small for my tastes but I was too lazy to spend five minutes power-programming my template settings until today.

On a lighter note, they're finally burying Anna Nichole, live. Apparently it's quite a side-show, being stage-managed by a secret cabal within the government to distract the masses from the real issues of the day. Such as who is Dannielynn's father? Personally, I think it was Daniel. Yes, I said it. I think that Dannielynn was fathered by Anna Nichole's deceased son, Daniel. And yes, I do believe that she was just that sick.

For the Weekend:

I'm going to my first "Civil Unionization" tomorrow in New Jersey. Old, dear, friends of mine are tying the civil knot and I can't wait to be there for it. I've already put forth (see: October 31, 2006 entry) my opinions regarding marriage and government's place, or lack of it, in it. But if, God forbid, anything should ever happen to either one of them, the other will have the full force of the law, within New Jersey, behind him, in terms of making the sorts of decisions we all would only want our closest loved one(s) to make.

After that I'm off to the wilds of Pennsylvania for an evening of celebration at a 12-Step Group that I belong to, which celebrates it's annual anniversary with good food and good speakers.

Finally, on Sunday, I'm toying with the idea of accepting an invitation to brunch in Manhattan with some friends of mine. It's a tempting thought, although I'm never wild about schlepping into Manhattan during "off-hours" (i.e., outside of work). But I don't have to make that decision just yet. I can chew on it until it gets painful, then make up my mind to just shut up and do it.

Sometimes, I should just shut up and do it. Like all those guys in Rehoboth. I should've just shut up and did 'em.

I think my friends would've approved of that.

But no matter what I do or don't do, I'm really looking forward to hanging around with people I love all weekend!

Isn't that nice?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Rehoboth - Day Three (ABOUT FRIGGIN' TIME)

So I woke up bright and early on Sunday, having fallen asleep by midnight Saturday night, alone and lonely in my bed by the sea.

I watched some early Sunday morning TV (infomercials, History Channel "All Nazi Germany - All The Time" rehashes of WWII, stuff like that), then decided to pull myself together for our final morning together as a group. There was to be a big group breakfast in the ballroom, from 9:00 until 10:00, a farewell address by a visitor from Texas from 10:00 til 11:00 and then a special meeting of the organizing committee to elect officers for NEXT year's event.

I had only registered for two nights stay and thought it odd, as I walked down the hall, to see "express checkout bills" tucked under a number of other guest rooms. But I just thought they'd neglected me and didn't worry about it.

I found another likely bunch to breakfast with, all sitting together at a table "down in front at ringside". They waved me over with much enthusiasm, and who was I to refuse?? I sat next to the cutest guy at the table, a dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty named "Bob." We started flirting immediately. We flirted all through breakfast. Something started to ring slightly odd with Bob, though, and with all the other guests at that particular table. Eventually, just before the guest speaker started at 10:00, it sort of came out that Bob, and the others, were all residents of a halfway house down at the beach. DAMN! Where were the oceanside halfway houses when I was trying get sober???!!!

Anyway, there went Bob. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't. There are certain "rules" in our fairly organizationless 12-Step programs, one of which is "no dating in the first year of sobriety." Bob, unfortunately, still hadn't even officially started his first year. It would be some time before Bob was "on the market" for real.

The speaker kicked ass, though. She was Tex-Mex from San Antonio. She had a rip-roaring story of drinking and drugging, a fairly horrific bottom and then a marvelous recovery full of miracles and gratitude. She'd even "discovered" she was gay in sobriety, had found herself a girlfriend who lives in Tampa/St. Pete and, at the end of this school year (she teaches), is moving to Florida so they can pursue their dreams together.

It was inspiring. It was magical. It's looking pretty doubtful that that kind of miracle is in MY foreseeable future!

After the meeting broke up I realized that something was amiss as I saw people heading out to leave the premises, so I wandered down to the front desk where the nice lady behind it explained that, despite any misapprehension I might have to the contrary, I was not leaving until the next day.

Well, nobody tells THIS alcoholic when he's leaving and when he's not. I informed her that there must be a glitch in the system and yes I was leaving. She disappeared into the back to "speak with the manager." She reappeared in less than a minute and I was all checked out. I went back upstairs to get my luggage. As I passed the ballroom, one last time, I saw a pair of lovely eyes staring at me. So I stared right back and wandered right over.

We said "hi." We yakked aimlessly for a minute or two. We kissed gently. He gave me his phone number and whispered, "you always have a place to stay when you come down", for he is a full-time resident of Rehoboth, and we parted.


I'm not going to rush into anything. I'm not going to "force" anything. I will call him, this weekend, it having been two weeks since we saw each other. And we shall see what we shall see.

And now you know why I didn't rush into publishing this. I wanted to make sure I wasn't making most of it up, by allowing the memories to calm down in my mind.

I'll keep you posted...