Wednesday, September 30, 2009

High maintenance...

Someone shared in a meeting last night about being a high maintenance person. As she looked nice enough, several of us could have taken that any number of ways but what she clarified was that her spiritual condition was definitely high maintenance.

If she wasn't praying frequently, she was headed toward trouble. If she wasn't constantly examining her thoughts for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear, she might be in significant danger. If she didn't place the constant thought of others before her desires, there were going to be consequences.

I get this.

Sometimes I notice that others in this program don't do as much or bring as much passion as I do to AA (either the program or service). I've been known to feel sorry for myself or whine.

But, shortly after I head down that path (a path I see others taking with seeming impunity, by the way), what the old timers in meetings in the east used to call "stinkin thinkin" returns and I'm off to the races in my disease.

I get that I'm high maintenance also.

Thank God I think I have a relationship today with an adequate mechanic for that maintenance.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The real deal...

I have a sponsee that I've been meeting with for over 15 years. Rob (does anyone else have a hard time keeping up with the names we give these people? - more evidence of old age I guess), has what would not be called a "low bottom" story. Given the constant tragedy and drama that over-ran his upper middle class family of origin, coupled with his relatively short and uneventful drinking career, I have often wondered if he didn't better qualify for Al-anon.

But, our relationship has seemed to be useful to him. We went through the steps and he seem to have a bona fide spiritual experience ~13 years ago and we'd sort of drifted apart until a few years ago when his life burned down and he threw himself into the program like a drowning man. It may have, indeed, saved his life that time if not before.

I started getting calls from Rob about his sponsee Gary 3 weeks ago. After starting out great guns for 6 months, Gary had sort of stalled out and was drifting away the way we do.

Rob and I agreed that we can only be friendly and honest and share our experience and observations - we don't get to judge or spoil a future opportunity...

Turns out Gary started drinking again and holed up in his house. After some waffling, Rob felt compelled to go knock on the door at his house. He was obviously inside (car hidden around the corner and movement seen inside) but didn't answer. Rob left a note and then thought he was complete.

I've been getting no less than 4 calls a day for the past 3 days from Rob.

Through some miracle that I only see around AA, Gary's family (out of town) found Rob and told him there was a 15 year-old boy possibly involved. Rob went over a couple of more times and still no answer so he called the local police for a well-being check today.

Gary finally talked to the cops (they broke in) and assured them he was fine. The family intervened however and he had to make some choices once the cops found out the kid was involved (was holed up in the house with dad...).

So, Rob got to learn how to check someone into the local detox.

The family heard that we were recommending he go to the ARC and thought they were taking him to the Association for Retarded Citizens center. They were fine with that (send him anywhere!) but we all had a laugh when they learned that it was the county's Addictions Recovery Center.

Rob is beginning to believe that this might be a fatal malady.

Gary is going to feel really bad when he realizes where he is and why he's there.

I'm proud of them both.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More finding God...

I realized after reading some comments on yesterday's article, I had substantially missed the point of my own experience.

I had left a meeting in the mountains to make a couple of phone calls and was struck by how gorgeous the aspen were on a hillside. The late evening light was making the deep golds and the reds on the crown of the hill just brilliant. My Blackberry was just not up to the task.

I was realizing how this was going to just be one of those vistas I will have to carry in my mind instead of share via pic when I noticed the cranberry tree standing next to me.

The spiritual moment was just moving past me so quickly...

Anyway, I'm so grateful that God can be available as soon as I drop my expectation of where he (she, it, etc.) is supposed to be.

It's lovely how that works...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Crabapples(? )

Found these lovely berries against the Colorado high altitude blue sky.

God is where you look for him...

Friday, September 25, 2009


I had a sponsee in the past that taught me to " attention to the transitions...". The context was "in life" but I've learned that it's applicable to all facets of my awareness.

I'm aware that, in our culture and society, we've diminished many of the celebrations that we (humankind) used to celebrate major milestones and transitions in our lives. For example:
  1. At our local university, less than 1/3 of the graduating class participate in commencement ceremonies
  2. In most relationships (my current one included), most couples think of living together as a matter of convenience or economically driven rather than having a marriage to demarcate a commitment and change in their lives
  3. We have become so nomadic in our lives that a "house warming" or other notification of moving into a community (or out of a community) is the exception rather than the norm
  4. Seasonal demarcations (e.g. solstice, equinox, etc.) and holidays are not universally accepted and some that generally are (e.g. Christmas, birthdays) are sometimes hijacked by commercial interests (I'm not saying here that commercialization is a bad thing but it diverts the focus from the transition that the event is about)
I could go on but it just seems, as a culture, we just presume we drift from one thing to another and it should just "not be any real big deal". In fact, locally, folks that hold to the old traditions of celebrating milestones fully are seen as sort of weird.

I do the same thing - I presume that I should be able to just move, change jobs, change relationships, watch the seasons come and go, health come and go, see new life, see death, etc. - without it affecting me in any way. It's not that the neutrality that I aspire to is bad or wrong - it's that I go way past neutral to where I expect to remain asleep - numb - to changes. Small or major.

So, I think I'm supposed to "notice" the transitions. I'm supposed to tell the truth about them.

There is a sadness that I feel in the fall - death - discomfort - different types of work. Change.

I don't think I need to follow that into the quagmire of depression. But I do try to be honest about it.

In my work, I move between several (sometimes a couple dozen or more) different tasks in a day. My day works out better if I notice the completion of each task, thank God, then notice and fully give myself to the next task.

At odds with this (for me) is the whole myth (for me) of multi-tasking. I've always believed that I was really good at multi-tasking. I've often been praised for it. However, I've noticed that my life works much better, and I get more done, if I completely give myself to one task at a time.

It's an old idea that has died slowly - but, I've tried to appreciate and notice that transition as well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I was asked to give a guest lead on the 12th step at a meeting the other night. It wasn't my best share (I was tired) but I got through it in about 15 minutes and, before the chair could open up the meeting, Rosie called from the back of the room. She just yelled "help!".

She was drunk, belligerant, bad attitude: "AA doesn't work", "you people" this and "you people" that. It happens.

She was fairly brief. Interrupted the next few people as they tried to share and then she left the room (2-3 folks followed her out). Not all that unique in an AA meeting. I had heard of Rosie but had not seen her in a meeting and didn't notice her when I came in (come to think of it, she might have come in after I'd started).

What caused me to think about writing an article, though, was that I got 3 different phone calls yesterday about "what should I do about Rosie?" I'm really not that wise counsel in the program that people generally call. One call was from a sponsee and the other 2 were from folks who were just calling around working out what to do with "the situation".

Rosie's life is a mess and she's actively working to burn the rest of it down. Suicide slowly.

All 3 calls basically led to the same place (for me). Help if you're able and you're heart tells you to. We all see all sorts of stories. I'm not one who believes the alcoholic has to ask for help themselves. I was lucky enough to do that but I've met dozens of folks in our program who basically were intervened with or had other experiences. One of my favorites is the guy who was beat to crap, hospitalized even, by his sponsor during his last drunk. Not my style or experience, but it worked for him. The sponsor stayed sober too...

Anyway, there may be nothing less lovely than an alcoholic in their cups.

But Rosie is a loved child of a caring God. She can find him. She never has to have that pain again.

Now, if we could just find the injection that would place that sure and certain thought in her head an soul.

...if only...

Monday, September 21, 2009


I've had the theme from Mad Men running through my head for most of the last 2-3 days. I'd already decided I was going to blog about it.

I love the show - it meets 2 of my criteria: it's a period piece and it is pretty much politically incorrect.

You see, I came to awareness in that time - at least the tail end of it. The first few times I flew, free cigarettes were passed out with the steak and lobster dinners. Their imaginative genius dealing with issues in the context of the day, racism, sexism, Vietnam, cigarettes - all of it seems to just sort of fit right.

But, that didn't give them the right to put their theme music in my head.

Then, I heard a piece on NPR from Andrei Codrescu today that was all about the way music infiltrates our consciousness.

Of course.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An allergy...

I love in the doctor's opinion when Dr. Silkworth uses the metaphor of an "allergy" to describe the phenomenon of craving that is associated with alcoholism. As the text between the short letter and the long letter in the chapter "The Doctor's Opinion" explains:
"The doctor's theory that we have an allergy to alcohol interests us. As laymen, our opinion as to its soundness may, of course, mean little. But as ex-problem drinkers, we can say that his explanation makes good sense. It explains many things for which we cannot otherwise account." BB - p. XXVI in the 4th edition

I love cantaloupe. I used to live for the time when Colorado's best cantaloupe (Rocky Ford) would come into season. About 23+ years ago, I kept getting sores on the inside of my mouth. Through a summer of noticing when the sores came back, I noticed that it corresponded to when I ate cantaloupe.

I tried cutting back (just a slice or 2) - the d--- sores came back. I really love cantaloupe but I really hated the sores. I tried just one occasionally - got sores. Gave it up completely one summer, tried one piece the next summer - got sores. Eventually, I even figured out that I could get them from a fruit cocktail - even if I didn't eat the cantaloupe pieces, the cantaloupe juice would be enough to cause sores.

I'm hear to tell you, spiritual giant that I am, I'm nearly 22 years abstinent from cantaloupe.

Writing this, I can still salivate thinking of how much I really loved that stuff - but, I've not had any consequences - no sores - for 22 years and counting.

As I was starting out with a new friend the other day and we started into the doctor's opinion in the book, I got to trot out my allergy as an explanation for why I've not experienced the phenomenon of craving for over 25 years.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Being alive and new...

I was asked to give 2 - 10 minute talks at an AA workshop this afternoon and, I tried, but the first one was 20 minutes. So sue me. I didn't see anyone get drunk over it but it still felt intimidating and frustrating.

The second talk was only about 5 minutes so I figure I got to give some back.

The high points of my day were several conversations around and about this beloved fellowship.

The last one, after coffee after my home group meeting tonight, was with a DCM of our local Spanish language district. This district is the fastest growing part of AA in our Area (Area 10 - Colorado). He has been a good friend for 7 years. We've watched him catch on to our program and seen the results in him of a spiritual transformation.

The spanish folks have a huge propensity to sit around and argue about what they should be doing.

A few weeks ago, at a district meeting they decided they had to do something different or they were all going to get into trouble., today, they decided to go from bed to bed in one of our local community detoxes (where a lot of Hispanics land) and pass out meeting cards and talk with the patients "just like Bill and Bob".

I still am choked up thinking about it.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I can think of few things I would rather do in life than sleep.

I know. For years I've presumed that I'm just not real creative or that I must be low on hormones or something - but, my choice of recreation at any hour on any day is probably laying down with a good book (or even a mediocre book) and drifting off to dreamland.

I used to consider myself a night owl - I would seldom be in bed before midnight. Often, I would work around the clock for days on end on an important effort before some big deal deadline.

Now, I really believe that any truly civilized culture would insist on a siesta in the flow of every day. And, my requisite waking hour (usually around 5am) would still put me in bed, ideally, before 9 every night.

I just really believe that many of the world's problems and the younger generations behavioral challenges could be explained as symptoms of sleep deprivation. We ought to have a mandatory minimum daily sleep quota. Tack it on to the Health Care Reform bill. Heck, toss the bill and just pass the Sleep rule...

Yet, when I'm living as a bachelor for a few days, I can't seem to drag myself to bed. I can't catch up on sleep and I can't make myself complete a day or go to bed either.

Sure, I've got some things to worry about - a sponsee that's drinking, relationship strife, impending financial ruination, family in turmoil, projects that are months behind schedule, friends in pain - but, what's so important to interrupt sleep over?

Nothing, I guess...

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I don't swim.

I wish I could come up with a short, easy explanation for this fact but, well there isn't one.

When I was a very young child, I remember the public pools were closed at least one summer due to the polio scare. After they re-opened, I was summarily enrolled in the requisite summer swimming classes. I know my mother had all the best intentions. I had all the best intentions. However, when it came time to show up for classes, well, it just seemed like I couldn't get there. Those younger might not appreciate that, in a small town in northeastern Colorado, it was just de rigueur for a mom to enroll their kid and expect them to show up in the pool (in my small defense, it was about 2 miles on my bike...) and learn something.

So, she'd enroll me, I'd show up for a few classes and would be completely unteachable and unable to grasp even the most basic instruction. I'd feel bad. Then I'd find it easy to get distracted on the way to the pool. Every day. Almost every class. The only thing worse than not showing up for class was showing up for class with everyone else able to do what I couldn't. For 4-5 sets of classes over 4-5 summers. It's embarrassing to write this even now.

Fast forward to high school. Several of us are out at a local private reservoir and there is a diving raft about 30-50 yards off the beach. Being who we were, they took the keg out there and the party pretty much moved from the beach out to the raft.

I'd had a few beers before the keg left shore and I watched as everyone swam out to the raft. I watched closely. It was easy. Besides, I'd had lessons. So, I jumped in the water and started swimming toward the raft. A little better than 1/2 way out, I was going down for the 3rd time when my best friend dove out from the raft and did a classic life saving maneuver.

As he and the other guys hauled me out onto the raft, I was a lovely picture puking beer and water and gasping and wheezing. After laying out for a while, I was able to resume drinking and we all had an adventure to laugh and talk about.

Came time to leave and I again watched and saw how easy it was to swim. I'd learned my lesson. I'd had several more beers. I dove in and after going down the 4th time the same friend again saved my life and drug me to shore.

So, for years, I've just known that I don't swim. When I get into water, I sink and drown.

With notable exceptions...

We own a swimming pool (a terrible idea in Colorado) and I had to be able to jump in the pool and get to the side without drowning or I would be afraid every time I cleaned it. I still only get in it about 2-3 times a summer but the grand kids have loved it and it gives me something to either focus my meditation around or hone my skills at focused resentments, depending on how well I am any given day.

On our honeymoon trip to Hawaii in 1989, my wife and I were turned on to snorkeling. I discovered that what I've never learned about swimming could be pretty well compensated for in salt water with mask, snorkel and fins. I loved it.

We caught the SCUBA bug and, one more time, I attempted to learn to swim to pass the open water certification. That adventure ("adult" swim lessons, getting certified) deserves its own article but, for now, suffice to say that I got through the swimming test by cheating. Up until 7 years ago when we ran out of money for that sort of endeavor, we'd logged a couple of hundred dives.

Which gets us to now.

I have a former sponsee/friend who's trying to help me do some exercise to help get me into some sort of shape (another article possibility...). We were at the gym the other day when, out of the blue, he said he'd like to teach me to swim. It's been anything but lovely but I'm once again seeing if I can now be humble enough to learn something about swimming that I could not grasp when I was 6.

The other day, he was trying to teach me the frog kick. I was once again feeling the frustration of a 6 year old kid as I watched my infinitesimal progress on the wall of the pool. I decided I really needed to focus so I bowed my head and very clearly followed the movements as I visualized my friends ample instruction in my mind. It was a victory! I was in fact willing and able to learn this!

As I looked to my left, I realized that my minute of highly focused frog kick netted me about -3 feet - I was going backwards...

So far, they've managed to replace the water in the pool that I've swallowed trying to get the breathing right and I've not given up after 4 lessons. But, it's not that I'm not looking for things to distract me and drop this one more time...

Ain't life exciting?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I love my mom. I love my son.

My mother lives in a local senior housing apartment. She is happier now than I've ever known her to be at any other time of her life. As she will point out to you, if you visit with her long enough, her biggest disappointment in life is that her son doesn't visit with her often enough or stay long enough when he visits.

I try to get over there at least once a week and we spend a few hours having lunch and doing errands she accumulates through the week. I know she loves me and means well but, for those of you that have mothers, you know that there are "buttons" that are painful and, well, it can be tedious. I know that she might outlive us all but what I'm way clear about at this point in our lives is that I need to enjoy her the best I can and all that I can for today.

God has repaired our lives together in a mystical way so that I can be truly useful to her today. When making amends to her some years ago, she allowed that she just wanted me "to be happy" - so, I try to show up, once a week ,and be happy.

Friday, she will turn 88. So today we went to a small local mountain town and ate Indian food that she had a taste for and then did a short drive in the mountains.


My son lives in downtown Denver. We get together every week for dinner together. It's just about 2 hours of time together but since he's an hour away, it involves a good part of a Wednesday evening. I do this, in part, because of amends owed to him. As the tornado that was raging through his life up until he was about 13 years old, it's a small price I've paid for the past ~10 years.

When anyone asks my about my son, I've learned to answer "he's fine" and change the subject. If someone I don't know persists, I ask them what they know about mental illness. After that, the trajectory of the conversation will go one way or another.

So, we get together. He rants about this, that and the other thing. Threatens, yells, blusters, threatens some more...

We have dinner, an ice cream cone and then I drop him off at his apartment.

I tell him I love him and that I'm proud of him. He says the same to me.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I got a call from Mike on the way home on Sunday. Turns out, he copped to being drunk for much of the previous few days (weeks?). I had expected it - in fact, I'd just said as much to someone in the car not 10 minutes before his call.

I hate it when my guys go out. Over the years, it's happened way more than I've wanted it to. I don't know how many exactly - it's not a statistic that I'm willing or able to look at right now.

All I know is that every time it happens, I really want to fire them all and move on to something like painting water color or arranging flowers or, well, anything other than sponsorship.

I'm real clear with everyone - especially those that ask me to sponsor them - that the only thing that I've got for qualifications on this job are:
  1. I drank myself to the brink of insanity and death
  2. I haven't had a drink for 25+ years
It really seems like they'd demand better qualifications before someone helps them out...

Anyway, it's been gnawing on me today so I thought I'd unload it here.

Mike is a classic "he did everything right case". He's got service positions. A home group. Has worked the steps up through is first few amends.

...except: He's got "issues other than alcohol" (as diagnosed by a doctor and psychiatrist). He has to take medications for mental health stuff. He has a rich, crazy, powerful family. He has siblings he can be "better than" and "less than". He's got to deal with pain medications for past injuries. I don't know why I get some of these "hopeless" cases but it seems like I get more than my share.

He's still texting and calling on the the phone occasionally so I know that he's safe - for now. Philip has been struggling getting a time to meet with me so I gave him Mike's 6am Thursday slot. I fear that will break Mike's heart (he's had that slot for ~3 years even though he's shown up < 1/2 the time through some periods).

...and, I get to stay sober today...


Monday, September 14, 2009

Holy S...

I was writing up something on the 8th step today and it brought to mind a meeting in a hospital on the east coast (Red Bank?) about 15 years ago.

This meeting was on the floor for the treatment program and was obviously there for the purposes of the patients.

One night, someone who was obviously new but was sort of the "cool dude in charge" was asked to read How it Works.

He swaggered to the front, got clear how much he was supposed to read and started off.

He was, unlike many of his ilk, actually a good reader and it was sort of refreshing to hear the familiar passage read with a new, lively street twang.

He read smoothly along until he got to the part where he read " are the steps we took..." where he slowed down a little.

He got to "...came to believe..." through "...made a decision..." and he couldn't quite keep the scorn out of his voice...

Then he came to "...made a list..." and he just sort of stopped and started wagging his head.

As he read ahead to step 9 to himself he cried out "NO S----!!!! - can you believe this s---!!!???" at which point the whole room was in stitches. He regained his composure enough to finish reading, shaking his head most of the rest of the time.

Since I was a visitor, I don't know if he ever found recovery, but in my 25 years, I've yet to hear a more honest reading of chapter 5.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I just returned from a weekend conference in Gillette, WY (about 7 hours away).

After our state convention last week, you'd think (I'd think!) that I could have found something better to do. There were, in fact, lots of other things to do around here but, well, I made the trip to Gillette.

I am amazed at how deep and quick my prejudices lie.

Being from Colorado, I'm well aware of how AA meetings go in sparsely populated parts of the country. Fellowship grows in importance and (what my prejudiced perspectives would term) the important spiritual transformation is watered down.

So, imagine my shock and surprise when, at this conference of ~150 people gathered from all over Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana (virtually no one there from a place with population >15,000 people), they could/would "school me" on the importance of and process of working the 12 steps, the importance of practicing the 12 traditions in all our lives, and the appreciations of our 12 concepts.

In short, teach me how to practice these principles in all our affairs...

Maybe this program is not in as bad of shape as I've sometimes thought - we might just need to empty out our cities...

But, I guess that's just another prejudice...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

AA Celebrity

We had a special sort of man in our area a few years ago. At the time I first got to know him, he was an At-large Trustee for our AA's General Service Board. At that time, he was traveling the world over - he was gone from home more than 50 weekends a year at one AA function or another.

So, when he agreed to speak at my home group one of the few Saturday nights he was in town, I was in awe and we were honored.

I was then about 6-7 years sober and was a co-founder of my home group so it was sort of a big deal for me when I went to the church to open up and meet him.

When he came down the stairs, I introduced myself and expressed what a great honor it was to have "someone of his celebrity to speak to our group".

In the 15 years that I got to know him after that (quite intimately), that moment was the only time I ever saw his eyes flash anger at me.

He said "Don't EVER refer to me or treat me as celebrity!!! It will not only be harmful to me, it might diminish a chance for me to be effective in my message."

I gulped and agreed and, as I've already alluded to, a special, spiritual bond of friendship was begun.

Over the years, I saw what he meant. Against his admonitions to me and others, I saw him treated as a celebrity and "guru". (I'm sure, in his heart, he sometimes appreciated his special treatment and position) But, we do diminish the chance that some of our best have to reach those with such a gift to reach others when we create something out of them that they really neither ask for or want. It costs them deeply at several different levels.

I've sometimes wished it were my problem (I've never really been all that popular in any of my AA or life circles), but my friend and others on this path have given me a view of what a price can and is paid for making one of larger than life.

Today, my anonymity might be my greatest gift.

Friday, September 11, 2009


We buried my aunt on 9/10/01. This (a relative's burial) is not the sort of date that I would normally remember.

Her services were held in the far southeastern corner of the state and we hadn't seen my uncle or that part of the family for several years so my mother, wife and I stayed late that day and spent the night rather than drive all night after an emotional day.

We woke early (for my mother) the next morning and, since my mother takes a little time to get going in the morning, I had the TV turned on in the motel room. I never watch TV in the morning unless I'm just killing time and out of town.

We were watching a morning program (Today?) when they took a phone call from someone who reported an explosion or something - maybe a plane crash - in a building in Manhattan - perhaps the World Trade Center. The news camera started showing images of black smoke coming out of the tower.

Then, we watched, live, as the second plane hit the other tower.

We knew our world had changed forever.

After about 1/2 hour, we took a group conscience and decided we'd just as well head home (about 6-7 hours away).

As we drove in and out of radio signal range, we heard reports of another plane at the pentagon, all air traffic shut down, 1-3 planes reported as "missing", another plane crash in PA. It was just all too unreal.

One the way down to the memorial service, we'd started listening to one of the Harry Potter books on tape. As we tried to continue the story, we'd catch pieces of radio reports and listen to the story and then we'd think of people we needed to call on the east coast to verify they were all right. The cell phone I had was totally worthless so we stopped several extra times to use pay phones.

We got home that night and just kept getting reports "as many as 50,000 people could still be missing", "emergency hospitals being set up", "reports of miraculous survivals or chances of survival" - I, like the majority of the nation couldn't leave the TV. Even though most of the reports were repetitious and, often, wrong - I just couldn't get full of the news. There seemed to be no relief.

On our trip home, my wife bought 2 cases of tomatoes and she cooked for 2 weeks straight.

For several days I found myself trying to will myself to work but found myself at churches, AA meetings, on the phone, in front of the TV - I just couldn't make sense.

I reached out to the most powerful spiritual adviser that I knew and he couldn't make any sense either.

I felt hatred - and no sane place to focus it.

I felt I had to "do something" - enlist in the military, go to NYC and help with rescue/relief, send money - but everything seemed petty, trite and meaningless.

I felt anger - and under that only found sadness and fear.

Time got me through that deep emotion but I'm still changed.

I think the "place" I got to with my processing of all that negativity has, largely, been borne out in the worlds' experience. War has not brought peace. Justice has not won vindication.

I just hope today that we've all learned something.

Blessings on us all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

International Experience...

When I showed up at the 2000 International in Minneapolis, it was the 3rd International that I'd been to so I knew better than to show up without having a commitment to help out.

I love International conventions - I can't recommend them high enough but, you must understand, I am an introvert. If I go to a meeting and there aren't chairs to be put away or dishes to be done, I'm at some risk of being drunk before my wife, the extrovert, is ready to leave. So, from the previous 2 Internationals I'd learned that there are precious few chances to clean ashtrays or put away chairs so I needed to sign up in advance.

We got there a day early, attended a few meetings and, by Thursday afternoon, were in serious need of a "job". We got to our sign-up post 20 minutes early and our "supervisor" was annoyed enough that he basically gave us the assignment of "...just go out front and great people as they come in - help them find their way to registration..." - (implied: do anything - just get out of here - I think he was an introvert too...).

So, with no small amount of trepidation, I found myself in front of the convention center on a gorgeous July afternoon with hundreds of folks meeting and greeting.

I spotted my first victim!

I approached a black man, obviously feeling a little uncomfortable, in a green tee shirt, hugged him and said "...welcome to Minneapolis!!! Can I help you find something?"

He had the oddest look on his face as he sized me up and sort of awkwardly said "...well, no, I'm working over there (pointing to toward the building) and was just taking a break..."

Then I noticed that all the food vendors lined up against building wall had staffed their booths with folks in green tee shirts just like this dude...

He didn't say anything more to me but sort of kept his eye on me as he hurried back to his hot dog stand. I caught him staring at me a couple of more times in the afternoon.

The next 2 hours flew by as I talked to drunks from all over the world and helped them get registered, figure out where events were, and just chatted the afternoon away. But none was better than that first exchange. I wonder if he still tells his family about working that convention with those weird AA people....

I hope so...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


We are registered for the International.

We have plane reservations for the wrong days but they can be changed - it will cost us as much as the cheap fares we've paid for.

We can't get a hotel on the River Walk.

We have a few friends who have reserved multiple rooms in outlying hotels but don't have them allocated yet so I think there might be someone out there who has our room reserved for us. If you know of such a deal, please let me know. If you don't want to post a comment, please send me a private email (available on my profile).

Now, what's the principle involved here...????

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I love conventions, conferences and workshops...

Even bad ones (and I've been to several) generally leave me feeling at least a little refreshed and glad that I participated.

So, being who I am, I often am involved in the committee. In various conferences, conventions and, workshops, I have been (off the top of my head): chair(3), coordinator(2), facilitator(3), speaker(3), treasurer(3), registration(3), program(3), solutions/special needs(2), web site(2), public information(2), hotel liaison(3), co-chair(2), media(2), entertainment(2), food and beverage(2), coffee(2) - but, who's counting...

At the state convention this past weekend, I was heavily involved and probably had one of my toughest jobs (this was why I was going to quit AA a few months back) but, it seemed to work out OK. Folks generally seemed to have a good time and the committee members are all sending around the self-congratulatory emails that we always seem to do - even after the "bad" ones.

Usually by this time (2 days later), I've reflected back and seen it as something like "...well, it really wasn't that bad was it...?" Somehow, not this time. Not yet anyway. This one took some flesh that it will take some time to heal.

In the spirit of where, in AA, "we leave no good deed unpunished", I think some folks went way over the line with me. It was personal. It was (is?) vicious. Some AA relationships I've cherished for over 20 years have been fundamentally redefined. I've been accused of motivations and actions that are so blatantly wrong to be laughable...

...except, I'm not laughing...

...not yet...

...I guess I am now.

And, I'm registered for San Antonio... ;-)

...and, I've been volunteered to participate there...

BTW - at the Friday meeting of said convention, the G.S.O. speaker said that by last Thursday (3 days after opening registration), there were over 8,000 registered for the International. One Trustee told me that the thinking is that they might sell out of 45,000 registrations in a few weeks and shut down pre-registration until they can be sure they can house and deal with everyone who wants to go. From what I understand (per said Trustee), they can comfortably deal with ~60,000 of us but might have problems with more...

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I was sent this yesterday so hopefully this is something new to at least one person - it would probably go better with a post on facades and putting on a front...

I have realized one more time that I am incapable of living the life I've been given. I can't meet others' expectations. Far worse, I can't meet my expectations, even when they're lowered significantly.

For me today, this is the good news. Once I get to this place of surrender, something else entirely can take over and my life will move on as it's supposed to. least that's the hope...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

God is doing...

I have a sponsee that I meet with on Wednesday mornings. We've been doing this deal for about 16 months and he's as fine an example of the miracle in AA as any I've seen.

A year ago, we were dealing with the loneliness and despair where she had kicked him out for drinking. Today, we're dealing with the despair and frustration of living with someone who's sick (yeah, same girl...) - trying to figure if we can get through one more week of verbal abuse and sick behavior.

It's almost amazing to realize that a year ago (in addition to being lonely), he was so much in debt he would never be able to recover, he was 7 years behind in filing taxes, his business was failing, his kids and step kids wanted nothing to do with him, his body was failing.

Today, he's almost through a 9th step and all those things are taken care of.

...all of them...

He's nearly debt free. He's filed or filing all his tax returns. His business has recovered and paid back 1/2 of what is owed all the creditors - will probably be out of debt by year's end. His kids and her kids can't get enough of him. His body has recovered and is allowing him to work more like a young man., if he could just get her to act right...