Travel plans – on VIA’s dime, too!

Having first signed up for VIA Rail’s loyalty program “Preference” in August of 2002 I am only now, five years later, actually cashing in many of the earned miles (or kilometers) and planning a three-stage trip for early August.

I will be going to Mom’s in Perth on August 2, for the August holiday weekend (the first weekend of the month), to attend the Chaplin family barbecue/reunion for the first time ever. Then, after a few days, I will head to Claude’s in Montreal – for the first time since Craig died – to see their new place and spend a few days in the city, before returning to Toronto on August 9.

Jeremy, I’ll look you up!

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A new category – T.M.I.?

Not that this would be the first time I’ve done so but today’s story risks revealing just a little t.m.i. – too much information.

I set out from home late this morning, with my laptop in my backpack, first going to a noon meeting, and then coming to the internet cafe near Maple Leaf Gardens where I can tap into free wireless while downing a couple cups of java.

It was only a matter of a few minutes before a familiar face came in and sat down to do some web-surfing of his own.  This face is on someone who has…er…danced for me a fair bit during some of my manic episodes at a certain club, which I have managed to stay away from since getting back on my bipolar med and abstaining from alcohol (this is Day 16…or 400-plus hours). 

Like some boom-box message from G-d I spotted another such dancer on my way to a meeting last night and quickly took a detour so as to avoid conversation with him.  (I was an especially nice guy, as far as he was concerned, a real special friend, don’tcha know?)

Anyway, seeing the other guy in the cafe today didn’t upset me.  As a matter of fact I could glance over my computer screen and see him typing away, his pleasant smile and physique mine for the viewing without a trip to the bank machine.  I was busy enough answering emails and checking Facebook to prevent myself from bursting into flames of lust.  As if to tempt fate, although not deliberately, I needed to change seats because the sun was making my computer screen difficult to see so I joined him at the opposite end of a long couch (with three cushions it could easily seat four or five people of medium size).  I was listening to my iPod and we were both focused on our respective computers so there were very few words exchanged, culminating in “See ya!’, and a trade of smiles, as he packed up and left a few minutes ago.

Do I know where he was going?  Sure.  Do I know where I could find him this evening?  Of course.  But I am going to a meeting, where I will be seeing my sponsor (and I’m sure she’ll have some feedback for me), and then I will – I am certain – join the meeting crowd at the Baskin-Robbins as I have done all week.  My sobriety needs to continue to include abstinence from the dance club. 

Meanwhile, I have added “T.M.I.?” to my blog tags.  It may be useful to review past posts and see whether this category might be appropriate for some of them, too.


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About face…no, about effacing


I am “processing”, somewhat, a phone call I received from my beloved Mom last night. Forgive me if it seems morbid – but such topics tend to arise during the grieving process which, of course, the family continues to experience.

Over the weekend, as Craig’s partner visited her in Perth for the first time since Craig’s burial in May, Claude and Mom went to the Scotch Line Cemetery where the remains of Dad and Craig are buried, where Mom and Claude plan to join them in death – whenever that comes – and me, too.

It’s a double plot with, as I understand it, room for two caskets or up to eight cremation urns, more than enough room since we have all been, or will be, cremated when we leave this earthly plain.  And space for two head-stones side by side.

Claude double-checked with Mom about my plans and wondered if I was thinking I would like a head-stone. The plans have been that Mom and Dad would have their stone, as they already do (with the names of all their children on it) and that Craig and Claude would place a stone for themselves beside the first one (where the flowers are in the picture). Claude was wanting to make sure that I was not feeling crowded out, I guess. Up to eight urns…but room for just two head-stones.  (My sisters and their families have plans elsewhere.)

“Oh no!” I told Mom. “My plans have been to be buried in the plot, yes, but I had never contemplated having my own head-stone.”

Then I brought out the effacement (I thank my sponsor for that accurate description) as Mom explained that my name, and the details of my birth and death could go on the back of the stone that she and Dad have (the one with all four of the children’s names on the front).  As a matter of fact that would mean my name would then be visible to anyone coming in from the main gate even if it was facing away (an ‘about face’) from the front of the stone.  A bonus would be that the the old stone school house on the cemetery grounds (a school where my grandmother once taught!) is close enough that it would, at some point of the day, cast a shadow over my name.  Not that I am equating school with shadows…

I joked with Mom that piggy-backing on their stone would be more than satisfactory; that all I really needed was a brick with my name on it planted in the turf.  Then I spoke of myself as “just me”, meaning – among other things I suppose – that Kenn is single.

Despite the fact that I am absolutely sincere in wishing no more than that for my final resting place Mom challenged – and God love her for this – the “just me” thing.

Yet, as I recounted the conversation to my sponsor later, the effacement seemed so natural.

Without being deliberately self-denying, in the Saint Francis of Assisi style, for longer than I can remember I have tried not to claim too much of the planet’s oxygen or terra firma. This is not about being modest, believe me.  And it’s not like I haven’t hoarded material things!  No, it’s more about the way I see myself – probably best left to analysis, or private reflection, deeper than I could possibly blog about – at least for now. You’ve seen glimpses here…distorted views of what I “deserve”, for example.

I like how my sponsor reworded part of A.A.’s first step, which she applied to herself and wondered if it might fit for me, too:

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol; that our lives had become unbearable (as opposed to unmanageable). 

Not that I have been actively suicidal (although I suppose it could be argued that I was passively so).

This followed up on my observation the previous night that “My life was unmanageable…and then I drank.” In other words, despite the unquestionable love and support of my parents and siblings – which has been constant – I was living with all sorts of neuroses and, yes, unreported trauma quite young, long before I ever picked up a drink.  My self-image sucked. 

Therefore alcohol was my solution.


Believe it or not, articulating this makes me feel better!

More lemonade anyone?

I had a meeting with my prospective sponsor – she wants to talk some more but I think it’s a go – and I have taken up her challenge to examine the issue of “trust” in my life.

We’re going to see each other at meetings this week and then meet again towards the end of the week. Meanwhile, it’s not like I’m completely adrift. Two former sponsors are in my home group. New friends have taken me under their wings after meetings for chit-chat and fellowship at Baskin-Robbins 🙂

The evening is cooling with me feeling a little more grounded and more optimistic. That makes it a good day!

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