Rule #62

Rule #62.5

Rule #62.1.0

Rule #62.1.5

Rule #62.2.0

Rule #62.2.5

Rule #62.3.0

Rule #62.3.5

Rule #62.4.0

Rule #62.4.5

Rule #62.5.0

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Rule #62.6.0

Rule #62.6.5


Rule #62

The Supreme Court of India decided that “To be legally accepted as an 'idiot', one has to be so dumb as to not be able tell the days of the week.”

After 40 rehearsals with my bass trombonist I, rather sheepishly, admitted that when we were recording and announcing the day at the beginning of the recording, that I would appreciate him, gently, reminding me what day it was.

I am an idiot…

It gets worse. The Supreme Court further said that “There were just four kinds of mentally unsound people: Idiots, the very ill, lunatics…and drunks.”

“Mentally unsound idiot…”Where have I heard that phrase before?

Oh yeah…from my ex-wives.

And…
My brother
My attorney
My fellow musicians
Club owners
Girls I have dated
My priest
And my friends

They only say that on Mondays…when I’m throwing away the long-neck empties.

Rule #62.1

For Matt D. who has five years of chastity and carries it, quite meekly.

From 1944 to 1955 Bill Wilson walked for 5 miles, whenever he could, focusing on his breath.

Tom P., an early Upstate AA pioneer combined walking and “repetitive prayer”, like using our A Office, while he walked.

To extrapolate on Lou Reed: “Hey Sugar, take a walk on the meek side”.

For Danielle, MJ and Francisco here are the chords to this classic:

C         Dminor
/ / / /  |  / / / /

“And the colored girls go “ Do, ta-do, ta-do, ta-do.”
(I just raised my teaching rates, today, but this is on me…)

Enjoy your chastity…just for today

Steve D.

Rule #62.2

Gandhi says when our marriages become chaste they become more “sweet, peaceful and happy”.

I noticed that at 4 o’clock this morning, when I got up to start practicing my guitar, I stopped and kissed my wife on her forehead.

She says she likes it when I kiss her on the forehead…She feels loved.

That’s so sweet…it gives me diabetes.

Rule #62.3

I bought Gummy an excavator truck today. He was so content and peaceful.

To people who say money can’t buy happiness I say…”You don’t know where to shop.”

Rule #62.4

You gotta be careful quoting from the Book of Revelation. It’s what all the psychopaths quote right before they pick up a semi-automatic rifle and head to a schoolyard cause they’re secretly mad at their mothers.

But, if you read the good parts, you find that most of the folks spend all their time saying positive things about God and, even more…they serve others.

If service is not something you enjoy yet, you’re gonna feel pretty lonely and unhappy in Heaven.

Something to think about…the next time your wife asks you to wash the dishes.

Let’s see, the Palmolive… Or the Burning Lake of Fire.

Rule #62.5

Chasity has some strange side effects:

I was in a dental school today for emergency surgery and the work was overseen by a very aged Indian woman.

She was coming on to me pretty hard. Things like “Oh, you must work out so much”, and “Oh, you look so good”.

I’m a Southern boy and I know how to “Pshaw” things off, when it gets a little thick.

When 3 o’clock rolled around they had to stop their work so I could go to PrayerCall.

I said “I’m a Muslim…I pray five times a day.”

She cooled down…respectfully.

I’ve been a Catholic for 10 years, but like Rodney Dangerfield said “I can’t get no respect”.

I may buy a Burka…and become a trans-Muslim.

It is San Francisco after all…

Rule #62.6

Thursday December 2, 2021

Matt,

I know that you’re a modest man.

And while I am not, I can at least spell it now. And after all, it is progress rather than perfection.

But, I want to make sure I got my “fact check” button pushed.

While you love your wife deeply, and have four beloved daughters, you have chosen to be chaste, which in our fellowship is defined as “No genital contact with yourself or others”….for seven years.

Am I quoting you correctly?

Be careful, because you may either find a statue erected to you…or wake up with a cross burning in your front yard.

Lovingly,

Steve D.

Rule #62.7

In response:

Steve,

“My wife and I have always tried to practice some level of restraint in regards to sex throughout our marriage. It was 7 years ago that we entered into a period of “chastity”.

“I use quotations because we both have abstained for different reasons and at different times.”

“I think that chastity is an intentional act.

Honestly, I would call what we’ve been doing mostly “abstinence” or “self-restraint” because it has not always been fully intentional by us both or (truthfully) even God-centered.”

Matt

Rule #62.8

In response to very long text:

Matt,

I don’t wanna blow smoke up your dress, but after 40 years in 12 step, other than my most gifted sponsor, who was a professional monk, you are the purest man I know.

That being said, brother…you need an editor.

You be Hardy…and l’ll be Laurel, Deal?

Rule #62.9

Day 29 of Chastity

“Sweet, peaceful and happy” is how Gandhi describes his marriage to Kasturba…with a vow of chastity.

This morning, at 5:30 AM, before the first PrayerCall, I made my wife a triple espresso, half-and-half mellowed, agave syrup sweetened, cinnamon stick flavored beverage with three of her favorite cookies.

I plumped her two favorite pillows, lifted her up in my arms, settled her back, gently, and handed her morning coffee.

If I get any sweeter…my teeth are all gonna rot out.

Rule #62.1.0

For Jeff D.

Page 169 of the AA 12x12, Tradition Eight, states that “secretaries in offices and authors writing books” is not service work. It is professional work.

I write for free and I pay Alona, out of my pocket, $17.50 an hour to post offices nightly, to manage the website and handle technical problems on GoToMeeting.

But, should it happen that PrayerCall becomes a legitimate nonprofit, with 501c3 status, so that people can write donations off on their  taxes, as AAA did five years ago…I’m gonna think about offering you a job.

Sexaholics Anonymous has a nasty little expression “Working with sex addicts…is like herding cats”.

While I don’t approve of their publicly shaming people who really just need help…I get their drift.

But you’re quite a caballero…even with us kitties.

Current pay: one beef burrito from Tacko and a homemade organic desert made by my wife.

Steve D.

Rule #62.1.1

“You have wearied the Lord by saying "All who do evil are good" or "Where is the God of justice?"
Malachi 2:17

Most preachers that I know do their best to persuade you to try to contact God through prayer.

They are fervent, impassioned and dynamic. But…at some point, can you drive God crazy?

Yes… I can finger wag at my neighbors who are more successful, but are selfish and dishonest…and wail “What about me?”

Or…”God there’s so much injustice in the world : children are starving, there are savage wars, slavery, and women never get an even break, anywhere.”

Imagine going to a friend’s house, and, as soon as you knock on the front door, you launch into a tirade about what you don’t get in life or how unfair life is.

How often do you think you will be asked back?

Your phone will be silent, your email box will be empty and your friends will silently try to pass by you on the street.

My relationship with God is really important to me.

I could do that “What about me?” whining, about Eric Clapton… But I’m smart enough to just sulk…

“It’s gettin near dark”…

Rule #62.1.2

I so overdo everything…

I’m the only guy I know who can chew Nicorette…And end up with smokers cough.

Rule #62.1.3

A two time convicted child molester called me looking for sympathy .

What he got was the truth. I loaded up the shotgun of Truth and fired, and fired, and fired…

Finally, his denial fell.

Glory be to God…

Rule #62.1.4

I believe God may have removed my obsession with food 30 days ago, as He did with my obsession with sex 4 1/2 years ago, as He did with my obsession to drink 33 years ago.

I feel so breathtaken “I doesn’t dare to say it out loud…lest I cast it away”.

“Shut up and play the guitar, Steve”
Frank Zappa

Rule #62.1.5

Jazz aficionados say that Pat Martino was, probably, the greatest living Be-bop guitar player in the world.

I saw him perform in 1973 and in 2008. But, more importantly he was my friend.

We “hung out” together in the Village in New York in the late 70’s, smoking cigarettes and talking all night.

That’s what got him…those unfiltered Pell Mell’s...

…deliver me from Evil

Rule #62.1.6

For Jack on music and Gandhi.

For the last 13 months I have devoted myself to the music that I love the most…The avant-garde. 

I’ve been practicing three, 75 minute sessions per day for over a year.

One night, at three in the morning, I felt so frustrated (being unable to play as quickly as I wanted to play, in 32nd notes), I reached for a single, long, moaning blues lick with sweet bends and thick vibrato.

My wife, being asleep in the other room, heard it…and squeal involuntarily. I thought “Steve…you better pay attention to this”.

Since then, I have been combining the avant-garde…with blues.

It reminds me of the old LBJ story.

When asked how he got along with someone as irascible as his wife LadyBird he said I have two rules.

1.LadyBird is always right

2.If LadyBird is wrong…see rule #1

About Gandhi: I thought about what you said to me on Scott Street six months ago.

With someone as loving and perspicacious as you, your confrontation gave me serious pause.

Serendipitously, two weeks later, a formerly enlightened Episcopal priest friend, said the same thing to me.

I believe that when people are honest and open with each other, God appears. It’s a very feminine way to look at God, but it works for me. When that happens on more than one occasion only a fool doesn’t listen.

What I found was that Gandhi really fucked up after his wife Kasturba died.

Sleeping naked with underage girls was, in my view abusive…and I am a “Zero tolerance” kind of guy.

Gandhi realized what a terrible mistake he had made. He stopped immediately, made amends and never did it again.

The question is “Do we not utilize Gandhi’s earlier techniques around food and sex, because of that mistake?”

When I talked to the priest I reminded him, ever so gently, that King David, the most  beloved and illustrious figure in the Old Testament, sent out his minions to find Abishag, a 12 year old Shunammite virgin that he could sleep with naked…to keep him warm.

I believe that that was equally abusive.

The question we have to ask is “Are we not going to read the Book of Psalms because of that? Or, even more extreme, are we going to deny the validity of all Jewish religious thought because of that?

Public opinion of Gandhi reminds me of what American TV viewers did with Dan Rather when he misquoted George W. Bush’s military record…Dan’s new job now consists of “Do you want fries with that?”

Steve D.

Rule #62.1.7

For Matt D.

“God is in the numbers.“
Debtors Anonymous 

“Get up early.”
All Addictions Anonymous

Hours slept during chastity: (Leaders, please do NOT read all these silly numbers out during the meeting).

6.5  Begin “Finite chastity period” November 4
6.75
6
5.75 = 25 hours
6.25
6
7
5.25 = 24.5
5.5
7.25
5.75
5.5 = 23.75
5
6
6.5
5.5 = 23
8
6.5
5.5     November 22nd Kennedy Memorial

5.5. = 20
7
2.25   Thanksgiving
4.5
3.5 = 17.25
6
5.75
3
7.25. = 22 December 1

2.75
2
6.25 = 11
—————
Total 172 hours
172 hours/31 Days =5.5 hours/day of sleep 

Normally I sleep 8 hours a day, like everybody else.

In chastity I now have 2.5. hours extra in my day.

In a 24 hour day, that’s a 10% increase in my life, each day.

You can’t get that in the stock market.

Jesus promised “Life and life abundance”.

Can you imagine him on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange?

Rule #62.1.8

I am feeling sad because, after 9 1/2 months, rehearsing every single week, my relationship with my bass trombonist has altered some.

I worked on it as hard as I could on my Sabbath, only the second time I have done that in 4 1/2 years.

I have done all that I can do. It’s time to let go and let God

I feel relieved…

Rule #62.1.9

“Unstructured Events Without Goals”,…my favorite line in the WA literature

Rule #62.2.0

A man took $550 for me three months ago to repair my guitar. Then, yesterday, he lied to me about it.

I immediately went into my ACA, feeling victimized. But, I recognized it quickly and began to pray the first three steps in ACA, verbatim…repeatedly.

After I quit shaking, I began to pray the Fourth Step Prayer “This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God, save me from being abusive. Thy will be done.”

I did that six times in eighteen hours. Before I went to face the man and retrieve my guitar I needed to express my anger.

As I was walking, I was making calls. It turned out that Nick was the next name on my list, and I let out unexpurgated litany of multisyllabic obscenities of the most vulgar persuasion…and felt better.

When I looked the man in the eye, I was calm and, as Shakespeare would say, I possessed the “Ice of Chastity”.

I executed my duty in such a fashion that Churchill would been proud of me…it made me a better leader.

Nick, thanks for hearing that, and knowing that it wasn’t about you, but about my anger with him…or more accurately, my Daddy.

Rule #62.2.1

Pythagoras created the word esoteric and exoteric. They mean “inner circle” and “outer circle”, respectively.

If you wanted to speak to him, he made you study with his students for six years, first. I have always thought that that was a rather extreme boundary…

My wife has about had enough of me, not doing service…but administrating.

Pythagorean Theorem…here we come.

Rule #62.2.2

Gummy doesn’t care for stuffed animals anymore…he’s two. He likes trucks.

But, today I taught him to program GarageBand and play the keyboards. He doesn’t care for trucks so much now.

Actually, he was playing the keyboard with his trucks. My little John Cage.

Rule #62.2.3

For Still Dave:

We are humbly grateful to you for your generous contribution. But beyond that, just your presence and spiritual contribution are priceless to me, and to all of us.

In my 33 years of sponsoring there’s only been one other person who I’ve been able to pass on all that I’ve learned to, as much as you…And you took his job last Thursday.

Thanks Still Dave…from all of us.

Response:

Steve D,

Just trying to put total sobriety first via a program of recovery. It meant that I needed to listen (even if begrudgingly, at first) and then experiment with what works.

It turns out that the magic key was taking direction, laughing at myself that I don’t follow particularly well, and being of service to the best of my ability.

It meant that I redefined what recovery looked like or felt like. That trust and faith were necessary because I just didn’t know if I was going to be OK.

I had to accept that I was going to be doing it all very imperfectly.

I am indebted to your service and friendship.

Finally, you taught me that this only works one day, three hours, one breath at a time.

Once I see at that level of resolution there is no Dave…so I had better not take everything so damned seriously!

Rule #62.2.4

This weekend was filled with people with mountains of disease.

I don’t care…God has lifted my obsession to eat and I am jubilant.

Bring ‘em on…Batter up!

Rule # 62.2.5

Bud Light is my shepherd, there’s nothing else I want.

It makes me fall down in green pastures. It goes through me like water. It has taken my soul.

It leads me into paths of self-righteousness, it fills me with hate.

And even though it sends me to the valley of death, I will do nothing but evil.

For you are with me. Your bottle and your glass, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before, and make everyone else my enemy.

You annoy my head as a self-centered fool.My cup never runs over…enough.

Surely fear, rage and negativity will follow me all the days of my life. And I sho’ will remain drunk…forever.

Rule # 62.2.6

Beethoven’s grandfather, also name Ludwig von Beethoven, was a wine dealer.

His wife, Ludwig’s grandmother, died of alcoholism. Beethoven’s own father, Johan van Beethoven, also died of alcoholism.

So, while there is some debate whether Beethoven was alcoholic, there is absolutely none that he was an Al-anon.

Unrecovered Al-anons must control absolutely everything and are prone to fits of rage when they don’t get what they want. That leaves you with a 2 year old maturity level…and the facility to write the 9th Symphony.

No wonder Beethoven never could get any woman to marry him. Ode to Joy indeed! His wife would have been singing Ode to Misery.

Rule # 62.2.7

God has removed my obsession to eat.

To maintain that freedom I must do my part, which is to be honest about my resentments and ask God to help me remove them.

My resentment: I am mad at Beethoven for dying. The following is from the National Institute of Health which, along with Center for Disease Control and the Mayo Clinic…I trust.

“There is dispute about the cause of Beethoven's death; alcoholic cirrhosis or lead poisoning.” His terminal illness was characterized by jaundice, ankle oedema and abdominal pain. The autopsy data indicate that Beethoven had cirrhosis of the liver.

His lifestyle, for at least the final decade of his life, indicated that he overindulged in alcohol in the form of wine.

Alcohol was by far the most common cause of cirrhosis at that period. Toxicological analysis of his hair showed that the level of lead was elevated.

During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, lead was added illegally to inexpensive wines to sweeten and refresh them. These findings strongly suggest that liver failure, secondary to alcoholic cirrhosis, was the cause of death.

If the presence of endogenous lead was verified by analysis of Beethoven's skeletal remains, it would suggest that the lead was derived from wine that he drank.

I feel my heart softening and feeling ,if not pity, certainly compassion for Beethoven.

I have been such a jerk…

Thanks God for setting me free.

Amen

Rule # 62.2.8

Run 8 miles working on form. Strength on hills, speed on the flats, endurance when I’m tired but always on form…

It’s a mitzvah to have the folks at PrayerCall to listen to when my heart is about to explode out of my chest like Road Runner cartoon.

Rule # 62.2.9

On Tuesday November 9, 2021 I directed a man to read all 21 Offices in The Courage To Heal.

After reading he said “ I cannot relate”. I then wrote him about the legal consequences of his particular form of acting out (See Peace of Mind Office # 326). While agitated, he was unresponsive.

On Wednesday November 10, Still Dave and I spent 8 hours calling therapists, treatment centers, attorneys, police and leadership in other fellowships.  Again, despite our urgency, there was no responsiveness.

The feedback of the Spiritual Director of a sister fellowship was: “A crime of this magnitude should be handled by the authorities and not by any other organization.”

With a medical doctor as a witness, this man was told we were unable to help him and that he needed immediate inpatient treatment.

Today, 30 days later, that man acceded to inpatient treatment.

Man…I should be selling cotton futures or something.

Rule # 62.3.0

I reread John Cage’s book “Silence”, which was the Dead Sea Scrolls of the avant-garde in the 1960’s.

The brilliance, vision and purity of musical theoretical thought surpasses even Beethoven or Wagner. But…it is a drunk talking.

Yoko Ono, who lived literally next door to John Cage, at 107 Bank Street, was trying to control Cage’s drinking through the Macrobiotic Diet. She would later try to control John Lennon’s heroin addiction with “fruit and nuts”….You can just imagine how that went.

All I knew is that, one week I would bring the maestro 15 year old Haig Pinch Scotch, he would refuse and say he was, “Only drinking vodka”.

The next week I would bring Stolichnaya Vodka and he would say, “I am only drinking wine”.

I hope Yoko eventually found Al-Anon and Nar-anon. Cause my stupid behavior ended me up…in Debtors Anonymous

Rule # 62.3.1

Step #9

Jeff,
As of today, I’ve raised my rates 20% and I’m teaching jazz. I’ve had to work through my resentments around jazz.

An interesting thing though was, as I was doing that, I could see your gentle, reassuring face, patiently coaxing me to proceed.

I remember when we were exchanging instruction and I was such a bad student, never practicing. I want to make amends to you for that.

Sorry Jeff.

But, the memory of your patience has served me very well today and I want to thank you.

Steve D.

Response:

You’re the best Steve and I thank you for all the lessons you’ve given me.  Far from perfect but I am grateful and mostly happy and certainly very appreciative of your guidance.

Love you,
Jeff

Rule # 62.3.2

Step #10

I have to be careful in chastity because I have so much additional energy that I can go screaming off like an F16 fighter jet into my workaholism and/or artistic preoccupations.

Sometimes I need to just cool my jets…

Rule # 62.3.3

I woke up with a knot in my stomach. I realized I was angry with myself.

After 30 minutes meditation I couldn’t figure out why and decided it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever I did…I forgive myself.

Rule # 62.3.4

When my wife and I fight we go for different weapons:

I choose a verbal switchblade with which I will slit your throat and leave you in a pool of blood so psychologically injurious that you will never recover the rest of your life.

My wife…chooses pouting. These choices make sense, in that, while my parents were insane…they were reasonable.

That is, if you could show them how you were right and they were wrong…they would stop hurting you.

The old woman that raised my wife was a total lunatic who withheld food and kept my wife hostage for 14 years in a shoebox with no indoor plumbing, refrigeration or air conditioning in 112 degree heat…when she was only 10.

So, the only tool available to her was “nonviolent non-cooperation”…of course accompanied by a perpetually, petulantly pouted lip.

You can always tell on PrayerCall when we’re fighting. When asked how we’re feeling I’ll say “Self-restrained”. She will say “Boundaried”…. and you know it’s on.

Rule # 62.3.5

Step Ten on announcing limits…

I have:

stopped texting people prior to the meeting to remind them to come.

created a new prayer for the end of each PrayerCall so that I don’t have to close 28 meetings a week, myself.

reassigned two sponcees to other sponsors.

stopped taking incoming calls from anyone, except my two current, active sponcees…unless, of course, there is a life-threatening emergency, then call anytime night or day.

Alona is now the operations manager of the Act With Courage website and Gotomeeting.com. If there are any problems, text her directly (415) 652-2301)…I pay her, just above minimum wage, to manage those two areas.

I will continue to make outreach calls regularly, typically when I run (and Gummy is occupied) because service is life giving to me…so be expecting calls.

My apologies to the group, during this period of PrayerCalls growth. It’s clear to me that my job description, here, is to write new material every day.

If there are any subjects that you would like to hear Offices about contact Still Dave or Danielle and they can let me know during the administration part of their conversations with me.

Guys and girls, I’m sorry for any confusion this may have caused recently, but I hope to be more effective as your servant in the future…God willing and the creek don’t rise.

Rule # 62.3.6

When I was growing up in the 50's there was only one household where the wife worked.

They were spoken about in hushed, quiet, endangered tones. It was said that the husband was alcoholic and could not hold down a job and support his family.

They were met with a mixture of disdain and pity. That was 15 years before the women’s movement brought women back into the workplace en masse, and 10 years after women had returned home from manning the factories at the end of World War II.

By 1965 the right to equal pay, equal opportunity of employment and access to education for women were eager topics of discussion everywhere.

Even in the fifth grade I learned about equality…the first time a girl gave me back my “friendship” ring.

I raised my daughter by myself, since she was three, and she has seen me fight bloody battles for her in court five times. So I’m all about equal rights.

But my wife and I use a different template. She believes, and I agree, that the man is the head of the household, at least in our house.

I weigh more, I’m taller, I’m faster, I’m stronger…seems like a logical choice…when there’s danger. As she's smarter, clearer, has a greater gift of faith, and more forgiveness than me.

But there is a catch. Anytime something is wrong in our home… It’s my responsibility.

When we are in conflict, being a true Al-Anon, I want her to look at her part. But that’s not our deal.

The deal is, no matter how much I believe I am right, or no matter how much hurt I feel, it’s my problem to solve the problem.

It reminds me of the old joke by Socrates: “Once made equal to man…woman becomes his superior.” And I couldn’t be happier…

Rule # 62.3.7

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
Love Story
Eric Segal

Baloney!…

In one of my top 10 favorite movies, Disney’s “Lion King”, the baby lion says to the daddy lion “When I get to be king I’m gonna tell everybody what to do”. His father laughs at him…gently.

My experience in leadership has taught me that, most of the time, it’s necessary to say “I’m sorry”. When your make mistakes, of course.

But, more often, when you are guiding properly and lovingly, and someone feels hurt at your direction, even though it’s best for them, you and the group… It can still feel hurtful, initially.

It’s important that you own the impact of what you’re saying…and say it out loud.

Otherwise, people feel unheard, unimportant, that they don’t count, that they don’t matter.

So, contrary to what  Eric Siegel said in that multi-million dollar extravaganza, “Love is saying sorry, a lot”…so that people feel loved.

Just sayin’

Rule # 62.3.8

Fourth step on Jazz:

The first time I ever played jazz was Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll”. I was 15 years old in a local dance band of 28 to 55-year-olds.

I kind of enjoyed the harmonic complexity. But, then I learned “Girl from Ipanema”, which is, socially, a unique piece of music in that it can get people from behind the dinner tables and onto the dance floor more efficaciously than any piece of music I’ve ever heard.

It is an insipid, vapid piece of uselessness, about a man objectifying some “chick “on the beach.

“Grin and bear it” was the best I could do, because I really wanted to be part of this band.

But, when we got to “ Ebb Tide”,  and the Vietnam war was at its peak, and Hendrix was doing the Star-Spangled Banner…I had had enough.

I started my own all original band called “The Looney Tunes”. My musical income dropped 90%… And my beer drinking, pot smoking and girl chasing went up 1000%.

Three years later I would land the best steadily income producing gig of my life.

I played bass in a jazz trio, at the Hyatt house, in Richmond Virginia for eight weeks, six nights a week.

We had a free shared room, half price on food and drinks, wore tuxes every night and after hours we would go to local clubs to hear fellow musicians working.

I grew up in the country, so Richmond Virginia seemed “Bright Lights, Big City”, to me...

There was a musical hegemony in that town and the very best improvisers were all young, up and coming jazz players.

Killer Joe, Night in Tunisia, Salt Peanuts, Round Midnight, Naima… The quality of material was vastly improved. So, were the players.

But I was listening to Sam Rivers, Cecil Taylor, and Anthony Braxton…after about five weeks the sheen of the gig was wearing thin, but I sure loved being a professional…taxes and all.

After that gig, I swore I’d never play another note I didn’t believe in…and I never have. That was 46 years ago.

I’ve been carrying that hurt, blaming others and self-pity around for nearly half a century. It’s time to let it go.

I am grateful to that first band for letting some arrogant kid make enough money to buy a car, and get away from his alcoholic parents. That was a real gift.

I am grateful to that second band for giving me that opportunity to travel and work, particularly at that time. My parents had just gotten a divorce after 27 years and it shook me and hurt me more than I had the courage to be honest about.

To both band leaders…I ask you to forgive me for my petulance and my mean-spirited derision of music that you loved.

Finally… It’s always a woman.

It was a woman, that discovered Hendrix, not Chas Chandler as history reports.

It was a woman, not Sam Phillip’s, as history reports, that discovered Elvis.

It was teaching a woman, who I care about, the music that she loves, that changed my mind and opened my heart around jazz.

As of last Thursday…all I’m teaching now is jazz.

I still hate major seventh chord…and clarinets. But there will be other fourth steps.

Thanks for hearing this in there by completing my fifth step guys and girls.

Steve D.

Rule # 62.3.9

Today is 40 days of chastity for me and my wife.

Today is 6 months of chastity for The Prior (MJ)

Go Prior go!

Rule # 62.4.0

Step Four in Underearners Anonymous:

When I wake up I get on my knees, the last 33 years, and say “Please”.

For 20 years I have added “I turn my life and will over to you’.

For three years I’ve been throwing in “I thank God for my life and wife”….I just like the rhyme scheme.

Then I lay in bed, very unceremoniously, and count my breaths until I can get my crazy, wandering mind lassoed.

And then start my day. 

Today after prayers I just let my mind rip. It naturally wandered to very alcoholic things, negative things. Mostly about relationships that ended badly: my daughter, my last jazz band leader when I was 20.

Then it hit on a man Hal R….that was a heartbreaker. Boy did I mess that up.

Hal was the finest flute player I ever worked with. He played not only the C flute that you see in high school, but it’s cousin the alto flute and it’s nephew, twice removed, the ultra sensual bass flute and even the pesky piccolo.

He also played sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone  and even bass saxophones. To give you some idea how rare that is, the bass horn is so big that Gummy could crawl up in the bell, play hide and seek, and no one would ever find him.

When he set up on stage he would take three men’s space, just to get all those honking horns set up.

He was a good reader and a good improviser and a “shoulder to the wheel” team player in a horn section.

Hal taught me how to use the music program Sibeluis, which changed my life because I have such a bad writing hand that even Frank Zappa offered to go to his private plane and get me his copy of Gardner Read’s Notation, I sucked so bad.

We would spend four to ten hours a day, several days a week notating for a crazy eight piece band with five horns, where we transcribed nineteen of Hendrix’s songs, including solos, for the horns.

But we could only get 100 bucks for the whole band…even after I would beg for tips from the audience. 

Finally one of the trumpet/fleugal horn players said “Love this music man…but I can’t work for $14 (I was magnanimously throwing my share into group pot).

So, the band broke up cause we were broke as snakes…

I never heard from Hal again. He refuses to take my calls. It was like a relationship with a hurt woman…they just “Move on”.

So that I don’t end up being a fool by repeating my same mistakes over and over again I inventoried my part. 

Even after 10 years I am no closer to fully understanding my part than this: 

I was an Underearner (Yes, they do have program for that, too) and I was asking a professional man to play with me like an eighth grade school friend.

I am unable to make amends to Hal, but my sponsor reminds me “It takes two to be in a relationship…and I ain’t both of them.

The best I can do is make “Living amends” and treat all professional musicians as men who need to get their own needs for financial safety met.

I am sorry Hal…

And I forgive myself…

Rule # 62.4.1

My wife, Gummy and I are taking a vacation in the Joshua Tree Desert.

We are on day 41 of chastity.

We notice considerably more sweetness in our love. I am kinder. She is more accepting.

It’s the old joke: God says “I can give you the most fabulous woman of your dreams, but it will cost you and eye, an ear and a knee cap. Man says “What can you do for a rib?”

I sing love songs to her and cry…and she laughs at me.

Rule # 62.4.2

On day 30 of chastity, Alona suggested that we do 90 days.

On Day 40 I asked her again how she felt.

Reply: I am just going to try to get through today. 

Rule # 62.4.3

One of the cool things about chastity in a marriage is you can just talk like friends.

I was joshing her and said “Why can’t women tell North from the South?”

Alona: “Because we’re following you”.

I figured I wouldn’t press my luck and ask her why she can’t put my tools away.

Rule # 62.4.4

I was asked to write about my resentments of clarinets.

In music that concert bands perform there are no violins, violas, cellos or contrabasses. These instruments typically carry the lion’s share of melody of symphonic music that listeners are familiar with.

An arranger is paid to transcribe these orchestral works into something usable for high school players.

To make it sound close to the original, the arranger uses clarinets to carry the violin parts, as many high school players play that instrument.

I came from a very small rural high school with 600 people from 6th to 12th grade in one building. The Band Director was a notorious alcoholic.

There was no private instruction available and the rehearsals that the Band Director initiated were scattered, confused and disorganized.

Being the adult child of two alcoholics, I was familiar with that modus operandi of slovenly sloppiness. So, the clarinets who were designated to carry the melody…sucked.

A clarinet, played extremely poorly, squeaks like a goose that’s been stabbed in the throat. During the band’s rehearsals, this would happen about every other bar (or every four or five seconds).

I love music. It matters to me. I hated those clarinets, and endured them from the 7th through the 11th grade…like a good non-recovering Adult Child.

It’s time to forgive them, the Band Director and myself for being so musically needy, yet not announcing limits and leaving on the first day of seventh grade.

God, have mercy on me, the Band Director and those silly, squeaky, country girls.

By the way, I’ll be listening to Richard Stoltzman and Benny Goodman…as a 9th step living amends for all that hate I carried around in my heart for over half a century.

Squeak, squeak…

Rule # 62.4.5

From The Kelso Depot in the Mohave Desert.

A train yard out of the 1940’s when men were lean…and in olive drab Eagle visors.

Building America in steel…

Before the alcohol
Before the rape
Before the fat

Rule # 62.4.6

Step #2 in Chastity: “I sing, discipline my body, pray and meditate every day”.

Music has meant a number of changing things to me over 57 years.

First it just meant sensuality, the sonority of the trumpet, and wanting to be like my next door neighbor who played…so my getting my unrecognized need for “love and belonging” and “esteem of others” was alloyed in, right from the start.

My fifth grade music teacher was the first presiding adult I had close contact with, who did not try to sexually molest me, so my need for safety was met.

That might have some bearing on my being a professional music teacher since I was 13.

But, then I heard a 4 string tenor guitar that my Uncle Charles had made and let me play, when I was 11. I instantly fell in love. The old Jewish Psalm #31 says “The music of the strings makes your heart glad”. Again, Charles and his brother were safe people.

At 13, I heard Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced album” and, like millions of other guitar players, I became a musical acolyte…and still am.

Until I was 27, when I first went to AA, the most spiritual thing I would know was the bends and vibrato of Hendrix’s soloing.

In that sense I knew “God”, because it was “Greater than myself”.

“God as Beauty” works for many atheists or agnostics, as I was at the time. It’ll do in a pinch. So, there is my need for spirituality being met.

Around 15 I was making more money than any of the country boys on the neighboring farms and I bought a used 1967 Ford Mustang and I began to see music as freedom from my alcoholic parents. My need for financial safety was now met.

A 17, I had explored all the commercial music that was available to me in my bucolic hometown and I became an “Artist”…through getting drunk on two beers and discovering the interval of a major seventh. Music now became a way to meet my need for creativity.

At no point along the way did I find music a good way to “Hunt chicks”. The four worst musician’s I have ever played with had that motive and I found them and their music, repugnant.

I went to the University of Virginia, studied hard for a year and a half, and was told by the Chairman of the Music Department that I should not be there, that I should study with John Cage, who I had never even heard of.

But Hendrix was my role model at the time and I went on the road for four years, 19-23, as he had done, and music became solely my means to meet my financial needs…I was thoroughly miserable, and drunk a lot.

But, I also then started my relationship with John Cage, arguably the most intelligent musician since Wagner, and Beethoven before that.

I heard and saw things that I had never dared even dream of musically and the die was cast.

I decided at 25 to devote myself to teaching because I was good at it, it paid well, I made my own hours and I didn’t have a boss…an all important feature to an alcoholic whose main personalty trait is “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do”!. And the need for creativity soared. I wrote “beautiful music” according to Cage and I was broke as a snake and drunk as a goat…just like him.

Finally, I joined AA, at 27, hung around three times a week, didn’t get a sponsor, didn’t share, didn’t fellowship, but I worked the steps.

Spirituality was wrestled our of Hendrix’s hands and another power greater than myself, that I could choose myself, began to slowly seep in.

I was selfish, dishonest, extreme, obsessive, fearful and full of hate (which AA called resentment)…but I wasn’t drinking.

Music was a business and I started the very first Rock’n’Roll school in America in 1982…did I mention I was grandiose?

Five years in, I lost my sobriety for about six months, over a woman who broke my heart (My wife was not very pleased with that) and I started over.

My first AA sponsor was an old bear of a man, beat-up carpenter called “Crazy Harry” because he lived in his 1963 Chevy Impala in the AA parking lot, but after hearing my fifth step said only one thing ” You are obsessed with music”. 

I was shocked, so I asked my wife, who confirmed this. I sought a second opinion…and my girlfriend said the same thing. So, now music was not meeting my needs. It was controlling my life. It was disease…the way I was using it.

I went back to teaching music as a my primary business…which has given me a humane financial life the balance of my life.

The truth is that I, gradually, gave my whole life to recovery for the last 40 years. It was a good deal. I found life, God and people…through honesty alone.

14 months ago I furloughed myself from 12 step, for five minutes, and I looked back at my life to see if there was anything of value that I was good at, musically, and I discovered, to my surprise, that I had a knack for the avant-garde and have been practicing that 3.75 hours a day, for well over a year.

Now, I have finally achieved something I have never known in all my life, my highest spiritual need: “Peace of mind”…and I found it through music.

Everyone hates the music, except my 2 year old son (Stravinsky said once, ”My music appeals to children and animals”) but, I just adore it.

As for the Second Step in Chastity “I sing every day”: I sing often with my wife in two part harmony. I suck and my wife, who can’t count to four if her life depended on it, just let it rip with greatest of passions.

Singing helps restores me to sanity, one day, three hours at a time.

Steve D.

Rule # 62.4.7

I have been asked to write about my resentments with the Major Seventh Chord.

For lucky non-musicians this is a sad, pretty chord used in jazz but not in blues, rhythm and blues, or funk.

Since the 1940’s it has been the dominant chord played in jazz.

As it is two of the primary chords in any key, you hear it played, hegemoniously, in all it’s prettiness, like Southern Steel Magnolias, the iron fist in the velvet glove, or Blanche Dubois in “A Street Car Named Desire, drawling I always depend upon the kindness of strangers”.

It is a pretty women in 3/4 length white cotton gloves, an Hermes scarf and Prada evening loafers…at her teenager’s baseball game. Wildly overdressed, but so hot that no one ever questions whether this is simply unbalanced taste…or borderline personalty disorder.

It is a “livery collar” chord, educated beyond its intelligence, that lobotomizes any genuine expression of honest feeling with the smell of nickel lilac perfume from Woolworth’s Black Friday Bargain Bin.

But how do you really feel about it, Steve?

This was not true of jazz in the Dixieland Era, The Reign of Louis Armstrong or The Swing Era.

It was used upon occasion, as the Seven #9 is currently used, but with respect for its force and restraint in its use.

During the Second World War Jazz entered its “Romantic period” as Classical music had done more than 100 years before.

In both styles of music heavy chromaticism and absurd changes of key, pointlessly going nowhere and having absolutely no musical value, except in saying “Oh, look at me and my chromatic jewelry, aren’t we fine some fine babes, here?”

I don’t like Bop for the same reason I don’t like Wagner, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Berlioz, Holst, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Smetana, Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Bruckner and that insufferably self-pitying Gustave Mahler…excess.

As John Cage would say “ There is too much there, there”.

Am I opposed to sad and pretty? 

Of course not, the “Inner child” in me is sad, and the “Inner egomaniac” certainly sings Bernstein’s ” I’m so pretty!” with great assiduity.

The only use of that most potent and pretty chord, the major seventh, that I find agreeable is in Eric Satie’s Trois Gymnopedie No. 1.

It is elegant, simple, straightforward and used for purposes worthy of its grace and charm.

When you are that pretty, that much of a “genetic celebrity”, it is important that you know your affect on people…and to act in ways appropriate to your listeners.

This is not exclusively true of the major seventh chord…

Rampant, indiscriminate use of augmented, fully diminished, half diminished, minor-major sevenths, augmented sevenths and a bevy of chromatically altered chords more resemble the commercial trashing of the Amazon rainforests than the intelligent expression of artistic experience, judgement and intuition, but don’t get me started...

Thank God that Stravinsky would come along in 1910 and put and end to this madness in Classical music and in 1959 Miles Davis would stop the mayhem with the album “Kind of Blue” and bring purity and simplicity back to jazz.

The first tune on that album “So What” is where you, as students, will start…with the birth of “Cool Jazz”.

Let’s turn to our studies…

In America there have been essentially two schools of thought in music:

1)Literate Tradition

2)Oral Tradition

These two traditions have, in the main, fallen on racial lines.

The reason is that, in America, from 1619 until 1865, slavery was legal.

Wikipedia quotes: “The comprehensive “Negro Act of 1740” was passed in the Province of South Carolina, during colonial Governor William Bull's time in office, in response to the Stono Rebellion in 1739. The act made it illegal for enslaved Africans to move abroad, assemble in groups, raise food, earn money, and learn to write.

As appalling, morally, and as sad, emotionally, as that is, it would also have long reaching effects, musically, on American music.

Since African Americans were forbidden from learning to write letters, they were also, collaterally, denied access to writing notes.

That being the situation, as all people have a need to express their creativity, the African Americans, who were drawn to music as a form of creativity, had to learn to play by ear…not sight.

This divided music into two camps:

1) Those who took pride in their ability to execute flawlessly the notes they saw written on the page

2) Those who took pride in their ability to create melody…on the spot

As we are studying Improvisation we will be exploring the second group.

Steve D.

Rule # 62.4.8

My longest running sponcee used to go deep sea diving in Micronesia and claim to have found G.O.D  (Great Out Doors).

Then he drowned, someone resuscitated him and he decided it was probably safer to find God in his church on Wednesdays.

I’ve seen a lot of beaches and I’ve seen a lot of mountains in my life, but I never saw a desert, up close, until  9 months ago.

It impressed me with it's stark, austere beauty. But, going a second time, two months ago, really impacted me:

1. My obsession with food was lifted…after 67 years.

2.I started getting up at 4:00am every day, sometimes earlier…considerably earlier.

3.My wife and I entered our third 60 days celibacy period…(we’ve only got two more weeks to go…Thank God

4.I have started a new job teaching jazz.

5.I am launching a new website on physical health

This third trip has already yielded:

1.stopping writing for horns, at least for today.

2.Surrendering all musical performances, at least for today, and focusing on writing fun one minute music videos for the people I like to talk to

Rule # 62.4.9

The wisest man about food I ever met said to me “Fat is anger”.

If we have overeating issues, that are not neurochemically based and therefore require professional medical supervision, honesty about anger can be a useful guiding tool to losing, and more importantly, maintaining weight loss.

“Ingestion Analgesia” is fairly recondite term that just means you feel better from the stresses of life after you eat.

That’s perfectly natural, but if that coping mechanism becomes habitual, becoming overweight…is also equally natural.

There are some good, reliable resources to determine whether or not you are overweight.

The Center for Disease Control, The National Institute of Mental Health and The Mayo Clinic all have simple apps that you can enter your age, height, weight and sex and you will get a reasonable estimate on whether or not this is an issue that is worth investigating in your life.

How does this happen?

If someone says or does something, and I feel hurt, it is natural to feel angry.

But, if I am not honest about my anger, at least with myself, then, as a misuser of food, that dishonesty typically goes one of three places: depression, passive aggression…or fat.

It can go another place…violence.

This can range from an irrational outburst of verbal violence in the form of yelling, use of obscenity and or profanity when expressing anger, shaming, blaming or one of the myriad forms of physical violence.

Sadly, this is typically aimed at whoever is nearest, our wives, our parents and even more tragically at our most beloved …our children.  Then our mistake  is “passed on to the fourth generation” and the cycle is perpetuated

It is time to Act With Courage…and change.

Rule 62.5.0

Step 9

Christmas Eve 2021

Dear “Wife” (You had me at Hello),

While there is something specific I would like to make amends to you for, if you ever felt reasonably safe and comfortable talking again (I promise not to ask to see you again), I need to ask you for something:

You used to ask me what it was that I liked about you, and I am sure that what you were looking for was your spirituality, your perspicacity, your adroitness of gift giving or snappy dressing, but, being a 12 stepper kinda guy, I told you the truth and said it was your beauty and youth. 

You are eleven years younger than me and, as hard as it is to believe that that was a real gift to me, it was a gift that I had never experienced before (ask some of your straight guy friends, they’ll tell you). 

I guess I overshot the mark and two years ago married a girl thirty-eight years younger than me and now I have a two year old son named “Gummy”, short for Gummy Bear…cause he is so sweet.

(I remember the time you went to a wedding and all your family took pictures with their ex’s and we laughed till we cried about who was going up or down relationally)

The woman I married is a Filipino and, in 1519, Magellan and his roving Spanish Conquistadors conquered their country and gave them a choice 

“ Believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God…or we will take away all your white rice and starve you into submission”. 

As a result, to this day, the Philippines is 94% Christian. They love their white rice…

While I had known Alona for five years, through Father Malachy, (who you might remember that I dragged you and Jennifer to see sing a ten second solo on Easter Day at 4:00 am at monastery in Conyers, Ga.) I flew to meet her in May of 2017.

Like the morning you and I finally met (after 8 years of peeking at you surreptitiously across the room), at the 7:00 am Sunday OA meeting and you came up to me and said “I had a dream about you last night”, I knew the second time I looked at her that this was God opening a door for me.

While I packed a bag for 5 days, I stayed in Southeast Asia 16 months, obtained a Fiancee Visa (during the Trump years) and we we got back and had exactly 90 days to get married before they shoved her on a boat and deported her.

My first marriage was to a Catholic girl, Jennifer’s mom, and it was easy for the Catholic Church to process an annulment for her…but our marriage, with your mama being Jewish, required more paperwork than was possible in 90 days, so we had a civil wedding on the steps of City Hall.

While I have absolutely no right to ask you for anything (You putting up with me for 5 years alone would qualify you for sainthood) I am asking you to forgive me for whatever harm I have done you and to help me give the gift of a proper Catholic marriage to my “Wife”.

PS: The thing I miss most about our marriage…is the Fig

Steve D.
415-515-5710
Steve@SteveDukes.com

Rule # 62.5.1

Step 9

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Bri,

I thought about you this morning at 4 AM when I started my daily 4 hour guitar practicing that I launched into 14 months ago.

For seven years I’ve tried to offer you free guitar lessons to say thank you for the many years of pro bono work you’ve done to save me from all the trouble my big mouth gets me in.

I know that you’ve been working on an exit plan for retirement from the law, so I’ve just accepted that that was your priority.

As your teacher though, I remember 20 years ago, this next February, you saying “I never want to let my guitar playing go”…but, you have.

The other thing on my mind was when we fought Patrick last and you needed to move to paid for services you quoted $5000 and we negotiated it to $1500.

While we agreed, something doesn’t feel right about that. I need to make that right, for me.

I’ve taken the last 21 months off during Covid, but last week I raised my rates to $300/lesson and went back to work.

There is a catch. For right now, I’m only teaching Jazz. It turns out, that’s something you know absolutely nothing about… And I’d like to change that.

Please consider reading the first few pages of the new book I’m writing https://stevedukes.com/jazz-improvisation/

If you think it might be fun, funny and might stimulate a return to your guitar playing, consider taking 15 lessons with me over the next year and a half before you blow town… And we’ll call it even.

My second wife was Israeli and she used to say “There’s always a way to make a deal”.

Steve D.

Rule # 62.5.2

I’ve noticed in the last several weeks that every time I can’t find something, or that something doesn’t work, in my mind, ever so silently…I blame my wife.

About the same time, a package came in from Amazon and the first thing I did was hand it to her and asked her to open it.

I’ve always been very independent of my partners, but with my wife I’ve allowed her to get in, in ways like never before… But I’ve gone too far.

I can open my own damn Amazon boxes… What’s wrong with me?

Rule # 62.5.3

I drove 600 miles in one sitting from Joshua Tree Desert to San Francisco and arrived home at 4:00am.

Gummy and Alona were asleep in the back and I was listening to all the three dozen country love songs I’ve taught Alona.

I was crying like a child.

I love my wife just as much today as I did five years ago.

Rule # 62.5.4

At Christmas in San Francisco everyone leaves town to see their families…It’s a ghost town. It’s perfectly beautiful.

My wife was missing all the people that she shared Christmas with in the Philippines.

Gummy and I went shopping and bought three nice gifts, a mushy-mushy card and a very extravagant gift. It cheered her greatly to see how much we loved her.

We talked about our 50 days of chastity. She said she could “take it or leave it”. She experiences a “neutrality” during chastity, as the Big Book says.

I said I was getting tremendous benefits: I could stop eating whenever I wanted, I have four or five extra hours in the day because I don’t need as much sleep, and I’m getting up at four in the morning.

She asked me what I wanted for Christmas…

And what I really wanted was 60 more days of Chasity…so she said OK.

Merry Christmas Steve

Rule # 62.5.5

I talked to Matt D. Administrative Director of All Addictions Anonymous today and asked him about his experience with suicides in his program.

He said he had had two. The latest one was a drug addict, sex addict and when he killed himself his wife came after Matt, within 24 hours, and threatened to go to the New York Times expose him for his negligence.

When people kill themselves in 12 step, friends and family find it hard to accept that this guy was just a “garden-variety” selfish addict.

They need someone to blame. Otherwise, they would have to feel angry with the addict…and that level of maturity is rare in the grieving.

Rule # 62.5.6

Christmas Eve 2021

Attempted, and failed, Step 9 to my second ex-wife:

While there is something specific I would like to make amends to you for, if you ever felt reasonably safe and comfortable talking again, I need to ask you for something:

The woman I am married to is a Filipino and, in 1519, Magellan and his roving Spanish Conquistadors conquered their country and gave them a choice “Believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God…or we will take away all your white rice and starve you to death”.

As a result, to this day, the Philippines is 94% Christian. They love their white rice…

My first marriage was to a Catholic woman, Jennifer’s mom, and it was easy for the Catholic Church to process an annulment for her…but our marriage, with your mother being Jewish, required more paperwork than was possible in the 90 days before her fiancé visa expired, so we had a civil wedding on the steps of City Hall.

While I have absolutely no right to ask you for anything (You putting up with me for 5 years alone would qualify you for sainthood) I am asking you to forgive me for whatever harm I have done you and sign papers that would permit me to give the gift of a proper Catholic marriage to her .

Again, if you feel comfortable after 20 years, I would like to make amends to you

Steve D.

Postscript: NADA

Rule # 62.5.7

I got a chance to talk to a professional monk for half an hour, today.

We knew each other 30 years ago and reminisced about all the “old guard” that had passed.

There is a uniquely sane quietness about a man who lives in a cloistered community. There is the absence of the frantic pursuit of success to be a responsible husband and father.

I’ve only seen that quality in one 12 stepper on “The outside” as monks refer to folks in the world.

Although now on “The outside”, he spent many years in a cloistered 12 step community, and his name shall remain anonymous.

Rule # 62.5.8

This is a quote from “Baby Boom” by the American satirist P.J. O’Rourke

“We used up all the weird.”

“Weird clothes. We wore them.”

“Weird beards. We grew them.”

“Weird words and phrases. We said them.”

“Weird attitudes. We had them.”

“We apologize.”

You know, I’m tired of weird…

Rule # 62.5.9

My wife said it’s better to love than to be loved because when you love someone, and they don’t love you, you still feel the love you have for them.

But, if you are loved, and don’t love in return…then you don’t love and you feel nothing.

I thought of that line from First Corinthians. “If I have not love…I am nothing “ and I began to cry.

I love my daughter and she doesn’t love me… but she doesn’t get to love.

It is not me, in my terrible grief, that loses..it is her.

Have mercy on my beloved child, Lord.

If not me, fine…but I beseech you to let her love someone so that she may know You, through them.

Amen

Rule # 62.6.0

My friend and most beloved sponcee,

You came up in my morning meditation today. You said, yesterday, that you felt “blindsided, steamrolled” by my actions.

If you felt hurt by my actions, words, thoughts or decisions I am truly sorry.

We have an 18 month history of an emotionally and spiritually close relationship around the unselfish service of others.

In the last year and a half of my long life your and my relationship has been probably been the most spiritually fruitful and rewarding. Not probably, certainly.

We have helped the sick in twenty two separate diseases, freely and joyously, and have benefited, ourselves, from our unselfish service to others through the near-magical algorithm that “If you help others get well, from your specific disease, that God will heal you.”

That’s the good news…but, put up your boundaries so you don’t feel hurt, ambushed or bushwhacked.

Three times, for specific cases, in the last eighteen months we have had to research and inquire of police, attorneys, hospitals, therapists and treatment centers in the work we have done.

Each time you have said the words…“ I’m a fraidy cat”.

I might suggest a different animal analogy a “fraidy ostrich “.

When there is serious conflict and a potentially emotionally explosive interaction you want to avoid it. I prefer that, too.

Nobody wants some vituperative, vitriolic spewing of hate spat on them…especially on Christmas Eve.

You know that I love you, but consider that this “fraidy cat” terminology may need to be updated to adult terminology.

In 12 step vernacular this would be called the character defect of cowardice.

I think what is actually happening is that when you and I are acting with courage, helping to heal the sick, we sometimes get to a place where we are beyond our limits of what we can honestly do.

I see our limits and proceed to the next logical step, but you “ostriche out”, for a while.

When your head comes out of the sand, I have been proceeding, “logically and rationally” as our Promises of Chastity (F Office) say, and when you see what’s been done while you’ve been hiding…you feel “ blindsided”.

Think about the three times this has happened a year ago, a month ago and now.

Perhaps, as SLAA says “We were powerless over an addictive pattern, of which any current, specific circumstance was just the most recent example”, that this is also true of character defects.

If, in a world of infinite possibilities, that just may be true, then “old school”,  it may be that it’s time to do mini fourth step on the defect of character of cowardice.

Now, on the other hand, I may just be an autocratic Dick, ruling blindly, selfishly trying to amass power in some delusional grandiose fantasy so that I feel safe in some spiritual fiefdom where I reign unchallenged so that I can feel safe…maybe.

But, I would do a fourth step on my sixth step before we came to that final conclusion.

Jesus said “Wisdom proves itself by its action” and he was a fairly perspicacious guy…for a carpenter who’s woodwork no one remembers, and I have seen you recover from:

Pornography

Masturbation

Affairs

Love Addiction

Workaholism

Caffeine addiction ( that was a bloody battle)

Fat…you lost 25 pounds

Narcissism with your wife and kids

Inertia…from a lifetime of physical sloth

You have even dipped your toe into the pool of chastity once

And in the last few days you have even considered learning to be creative

So, in the spirit of just plain AA honesty I can fairly say that you have gotten considerably better.

But, like me, there is a lot still to do.

Turn to…write on this.

And don’t wait till 3:45 pm to start a project due at 5:00pm…just for variety of experience.

Rule # 62.6.1

Loving a man chastely is very different from loving a man chastely, for a straight guy.

There is a playfulness and jocular street nastiness which is possible with chaste guys when we are laughing…very Richard Prior.

I receive spiritually Illuminative gifts from women that no man can give because their perspective is so different from guys, but…there is always a respectful restraint necessary to maintain physical appropriateness for the emotional safety of both parties.

If you don’t think that is true, sit in an AA meeting full of 15 guys and see how the room changes the moment a girl walks in.

You girls are missing a lot of fun. Fortunately, with chastity, even that is possible.

Rule # 62.6.2

I found myself acting arrogantly. I wasn’t being mean or pushy.

I just kept believing that, if I was simple and clear enough, someone would understand what I was saying. But I was wrong.

That was arrogance on my part.

Universe…I am sorry.

I’m just gonna go play the guitar.

Postscript: my old friend was successful…after 5 years of trying and failing…he succeeded! Hallelujah!!!

It’s a mitzva!!!

Rule # 62.6.3

Step Nine:

50 years ago this September I walked into a dormitory in Charlottesville Virgina at the University of Virginia and met Brian, a lean, long haired, guitar player with a nastily unplayable Gibson SG electric guitar.

Back in those politically polarized days of the late Vietnam War people took hard moral stances on everything: You were either with Nixon…or Hendrix.

I was on the left with a Fender guitars and he was on the right with a Gibson guitar…the battle lines were drawn before we had even spoken.

Being a left wing, codependent, people pleaser I proffered forth to my right-wing, narcissistic friend “Wanna play?”.

There is an old joke in the music world: What is the first thing out of a guitar player’s mouth when he meets another guitar player? …”I’m better than you”.

So, jam we did.

There was an old Cajun boy from New Orleans in the next room who heard us, moseyed on in, as he was like to do, walked out and then back in with three other newbie college boys.

He said “This is Steve…and his accompanist, Brian”.

Brian, in his morally indignant tone, apropos to someone suggesting that the bombing of Haiphong just might be wrong, shouted “ Hey!" and quit playing…

Any chance of real friendship for the next 50 years instantly evaporated…Guitar players were just like that back in that day.

Guitar was not about music back then, it was an instrument of social change, whether the out-of-tune whinings of the prophet Bob Dylan or the celestial explorations of Jimi, the Pied Piper of middle class, disaffected, dope-smoking, educated-beyond-their-intelligence white youth.

That was both of us, I’m afraid…

I came from two alcoholic parents, who were brutal on their best days, and Brian came from a well-spoken father, who talked of music illuminatingly, and a mother whom he never mentioned.

There we were…two needy kids without a clue how to get our needs met, huddled together in a smelly shoe box of a room, smoking like furnaces: Me, Menthol Marlboros, and him, Marlboro Reds. The battle lines were drawn with cigarettes, guitars, music, you name it. Everyone took a moral stance on everything.

They say that there is only two percent difference between Hitler and Gandhi. If you really want to be different: have fins, fur, no vertebrae, hatch your young, stuff like that …then you are really different.

There is an old joke about guitar players: They are ego maniacs…with inferiority complexes.

The truth is that we were both the same: Needy kids with parents who wanted what they thought was best for us, but couldn’t articulate it, in confusing, turbulent and violent times.

Brian, I am sorry that I could never just say that I wanted us to be friends…

Steve D.

Rule # 62.6.4

Two years ago, on January 27, 2020, I confronted a man whose wife had a restraining order against him and told him he was lying…

He had two under-aged children that he was denied access to, one of whom had requested a restraining order be complied with, for the child’s own safety, because of his father’s drinking and violence.

I took him to AA several times but he said “It brought him down to think he was an alcoholic”.

They found him dead in his apartment, after no-one had seen him for a month… and there are no details on the cause of death.

Rule # 62.6.5

Since November of 1997 I have learned from reading Gandhi’s writings many tools that, for me, extend the simple principles of 12 step, due to the natural genius of Gandhi’s “Genetics celebrity” brain.

I have tried all his tools many times…except one: a vow of chastity within marriage.

Now, I’m not gonna do that…that would kinda rankle even the spiritual giftedness of Miss Alona.

But, as we temporally practice this, and I am now using every tool he suggests, I find that I disagree with the Mahatma on a little something:

Gandhi opines:

“Eating for pleasure should never be indulged in. We should eat only in order that we may live, and should live only to realize the Self”.

Yeah, I get that. But, with all humility and humanity, I proffer forth that I have heretofore demurred that this is prima facie already the case.

What that gobbledygook means is that… I can now eat four ounces of organic popcorn with Gummy…and it’s fun!

Rule # 62.6.6

For 52 days I have worked on straightening my back so I don’t look like Robert Plant…all hunched over like an old man carrying a bag of kindling.

It’s been pretty successful. I intuited correctly and the chastity has given me the power that I need, but…I need mental guidance. I forget…

When I am chaste AND pray the first three steps my back is perfectly straight and…even swagger a bit in God’s glory…but my mind wanders off into my day to day activities like  changing diapers, washing dishes and putting out fires at PrayerCall.

Also, I can’t count my breaths, which calms my mind, and pray the steps at the same time, which straightens my back.

May have to choose between a peaceful hunchback… or a frantic, but elegant dancer.

Rule # 62.6.7

The principle behind the Eighth Step is Brotherly Love.

The principle behind the Ninth Step is Discipline.

As these two steps are often paired it tells me that I need to practice Brotherly Love in a Disciplined way.

I am obedient to the God of my understanding to the best of my very flawed abilities.

Last summer my wife and son accompanied me on a trip to Montana to make amends to you, and we have since become friends…and I am grateful for that.

I have told you that as a youth of 18 I was attracted to you and that I liked your smartness and particularly your humor.

I was careful not to say that too early in our new friendship so as not to send out a  message that might be misinterpreted, as I am a love addict as well as a sex addict.

But, we were successful. I feel safe now and I discovered something tonight that I had forgotten.

I felt fear about saying it, but then I remembered you telling me something that I didn’t know, that when we were 18 that you had to fight your parents, pretty significantly, to be with me.

I’m sorry that you had to experience that.

I remembered a guy, from Missouri I think, a guitar player/singer, very amiable, who I believe you introduced me to.

We both liked James Taylor and he introduced me to a song of his I had never heard before.

Tonight, I randomly stumbled over it (if you believe that God does random things) and remembered, how I actually felt about you back then. The song is “Something In The Way She Moves”.

I just wanted you to know that the pain you suffered at your parents hands, was over something that was real and genuine and pure.

Steve D.