"Diary of a 1st time delegate "
Notes and thoughts of the 53 General Service Conference
(This is not a final report)
7:50am April 24, 2003
Loaded on a full plane to La Guardia. I am feeling excited and nervous. I need to remember that God is in charge. God will direct us at the conference. Trust in the group conscience of the CPC committee and of AA as a whole. What an awesome experience to be serving AA in the US and Canada. What a privilege to serve this fellowship that has saved my life and that of countless others.
I am taking the time on the plane to review the General Service Conference Charter and its purpose. "It is the guardian of the World Services, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. The conference will act for AA in the perpetuation and guidance of its world services and it will be the vehicle by which the AA movement can express its view upon all matters of vital A.A. policy and all hazardous deviations from the Traditions."
I feel like I have packed enough for a whole year. Did I forget anything? Thank you god, I remembered to ask you into this deal the first thing this morning.
1:00 PM April 24, 2003
Am landing in New York City. What a sight from the air. People are friendly. Walked ten minutes to Terminal B to meet the Delegate from La. We can share a ride to the hotel. As at home, it is much better to do things together- help support one another. This is a we program. The delegate is also on the CPC Committee. We can take a few minutes to review our agenda on the way to the hotel.
The weather is great, 60's and clear. It is supposed to rain tomorrow. When I took my first trip to New York, I was full of fear of the unknown. I had this image (from the movies) that there would be roving gangs in the subways. Nothing was farther from the truth. I feel much more comfortable.
The plane arrived. He had made arrangements for someone to show up and act as our guide. We took a quick group conscience and decided that instead of a cab we would be adventurous. We would take a street bus through the neighbor-hood's to the subway. Then we would take the elevated subway through the borough of Queens into the city.
Oh boy, what a decision! What a load the bags turned out to be. The bus was packed and I was loaded down with 1 suitcase, 1 garment bag, and a backpack. From bus to subway and up three flights from the street to the elevated train system. The local neighborhoods were very colorful. Full of people busy at work and play. Then into Manhattan where we dropped underground into the bowels of New York. Thank god for the guide because under ground you do not know which way is what. Off the subway at 50th Street and up several flights to daylight (oh those bags) Whow- 50th and Broadway. Buildings going strait up into the clouds.
Only one block to the Hotel. The doorman asks for my bag-yes, yes what a relief. I mentioned to him about our little trip from the airport. He looked at me like I was crazy for doing it and asked if I needed a drink. I sure got a good laugh out of that one. Finally checked in and settled in my room.
Went out for a walk. It was suggested that I go out and get my bearings. Find out where the local food store, deli, and drug store are. Sidewalks are packed here in Times Square. Found the local drug store and deli. Back to the hotel.
I sit down at the head of the stairs. Class A and B Trustees start showing up. I was able to talk at length with U.S Trustee at large, and class A, Trustee from Canada. GSC Delegates started to show up. Was able to say hello to old friends and start making new ones. Feeling very tired from the days travel and all excitement. I am glad to have come up the night before. Thank you god for the opportunity to be of service.
Saturday April 25, 2003
Up early and out to search for some breakfast. Too expense in the hotel. Found the world famous (at least to some of us delegates) Stage Door Deli. Good prices and good food. Then off to meet my wife. She is coming into town for the opening dinner of the conference. I take the subway to Penn Station. I guess because I have ridden it once I think that I am an old pro and am willing to even give out directions.
Back to the hotel and get ready for the New York Intergroup's open house. I start meeting delegates from around the U.S and Canada. Everyone seems to have a great sense of humor. The Panel 52's appear to be relaxed. Panel 53's a little nervous. The local volunteers make us all feel welcome. I finally meet my conference buddy (one of them). He is very outgoing and speaks good English. He introduces me to some of the Panel 52s and my other conference buddy from Canada. It good to have a buddies. They make me feel welcome and offer guidance.
We decide to go out for something to eat. Oh no, not $15.00 hamburger-I get tears in my eyes. Whoa a $20.00 sandwich. I start thinking about fasting. We finally find something we can share and I start to feel better. Then its back to the hotel and get ready for the database download presentation. Looks great. It will offer much more flexibility. It should help our area registrar. Lots of questions and answers. Will pass along to info to our area registrar. We take a walk to stretch a little. New York City sure is a big place, so many different cultures. Back to the hotel to get ready for the Delegates only meeting. A little
nervous and excited.
93 Delegates meeting in one room. Awesome. We went over what was going to be happening at the conference concepts, structure, and some procedures. Then Panel 52' shared on their experiences at last years conference. I found it very informative and helpful. Several Panel 52s said that the Panel 53s looked like deer blinded by car lights. Another said that the Panel 53s try to act like they had been there before. I can relate-We do not want anyone to know that we do not know.
Sunday April 26, 2003
Up early and off to the Stage Door Deli. It is a good time to make new friends and meet old ones. I spend the time sharing about what its going on in Southeast Texas and listening to problems and solution from other areas. Then it is off to the remote communities meeting. Much discussion as to what a remote community is. The definition has expanded over the
years. Should we get back to the original definition??? One delegate talks about their area stretching to the North Pole. Another area delegate shares on putting together a polar bear express (a group of A.A.s willing to travel north). They talk about taking planes, trains, and sleds to reach the groups. Well, I guess Texas ain't that big after all.
Time to register for the conference. Man they give me enough paper. I see why it was suggested to bring an extra suitcase. I am told that this is only the beginning. Delegates start handing out pins, stickers and bookmarks to pin on ourselves. Then its off to our regional delegates luncheon. We meet with our regional trustee and all the delegates from our region. We are honored to have past Chairman of the Board and an AAWS Director in attendance. We go over the do's and don'ts of the conference. Discuss the meeting schedules. Trustee emeritus shares about the pitfalls of floor action. Treat the conference like a big home group. Do not talk about your committee's business in the hallways until the conference receives your report from the floor. This is a working lunch, so we eat and share.
Then it is downstairs to the opening of the conference. Talks by chairman of the General Services Board and vice chair. 2nd vice chair goes over conference procedures. We break to meet with our CPC Committee and corresponding Trustees Committees. Very interesting. Many question and answers. It was interesting to hear the trustees viewpoints. We break and meet again for the opening reception and dinner. A whole lot of people. I am getting a little nervous but we go into the main room and things settle down. We have 5- 15 minute AA speakers. Great sharing. Boy oh boy what a meal.
Monday April 27, 2003
Up early, off to the deli and then to the Serenity Group A.A. meeting. Great sharing. It is good to start the day out with the basics. Then its off to our CPC Committee meeting. Very lively discussions. Some disagreements. Participating in the committee process is always an amazing thing. I watch how the sense of the group changes as more info is shared from A.A.s. We slowly work our way through our committee agenda. We break for lunch. They feed you well. Hard to say no as it is so good.
Back in the afternoon for presentations by the General Service Board and the Grapevine. Followed by a report on the state of our finances. Lots of questions and answers. They will all be in the final report. Listened to area presentations by the Southeast and East Central Regional Delegates. This was followed by a presentation on the Grapevine, its editorial purpose and Grapevine around the fellowship. Break for dinner and then back for a presentations by U.S Trustee at Large, on "AA Around the World". Charlie shared on his trip to the World Service meeting and how on his ride from the Airport, at speeds exceeding 100 miles, he was about scared to death but arriving safe. This was followed by a moving presentation on "New Frontiers" by our GSO international staff member. We were all in tears as he shared on the subject, his gratitude for the program and thanked everyone for their support during his illness.
Tuesday April 28
Up for breakfast and the Serenity Group meeting. It is important for me to remember that when it is all said and done I am an alcoholic. "If I forget what I am it will not matter who I am". Off to our committee meetings. More discussion, we ask for minutes from trustees meeting to clarify some information. Our staff person and her assistant work so hard. More discussion. We disagree without being disagreeable. Everyone in the room really loves A.A. and is passionate about it. After a total of
8 hours meeting in our committee, we come to unanimous recommendations on all of the CPC agenda items. Now the wording has to be just right. We have a few wordsmiths on the committee-yes yes. Thanks for all of us, and
all of the input. It takes us all. We will see what the conference says.
Its time to elect a CPC Chair for 2004. No qualifying. Secret ballot. Everyone votes. 3-3-2. Second round it goes to 4 & 4. Two names go in the hat and oh no, my name is pulled out of the hat. God, what do you have planned for me? I immediately jump into the future one year and start getting nervous. Slow down and stay in the now. I find out later that three delegates from our region are elected as Chairs of their respective committees and one delegate is a vice chair. Great
representation from our area. We break for lunch and then its back for two workshops by Panel 52's on "Responsibilities of Sponsorship" and "Is Sponsorship Fading Away ". Then a fantastic presentation by Class A Trustee on Sponsoring Professionals. I hope everyone reads the final report. Then another round of area reports from the Western Canada and Pacific Regions.
Off to GSO. Some of us get lost on the subway but all make it to the office safe. All the staff is great. Tour the Grapevine and General Service offices. New La Vina, May issue, has two pictures from our own district 65. They give me some extra copies. Then its back to the hotel by 4:00 PM. Some delegates are going to head out for a walk. I am exhausted. The intensity of this is wearing me down. They had mentioned that some hit a wall by Wed. so I head upstairs to take a short rest before dinner. Thank you for the break.
Up, out and down to the delegates only dinner and meeting. One thing that was suggested was that I sit at different tables every night. Meet and make new friends. Again much sharing about A.A. as a whole goes on over dinner. We all have common problems and goals. We all share solutions. We start the election process for next years Conference Delegate Chairperson. Definitely a god deal. Each region puts a name in the hat then a name comes out of the hat for the whole conference. Our region is honored again. The delegate from Colorado is our new 2004 Conference Delegate Chairperson. We then take turns going to the mike to share on problems and solution form our respective areas. We break for the night. Our region is to meet at the Stardust Diner for ice cream. The Southeast and Southwest all head down. It is a karaoke diner with music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. People take turns singing. I stay awhile then its back to the hotel to read, write and some much needed rest.
Wed April 30, 2003
Up and out to that world famous deli. Oatmeal and raisins as this will be a real long day. Committees will start their reports today. Yes, god, you are in charge and I am here to be of service. It is time for the morning workshops. We break into groups of 10 or so made up of delegates, class A, Class B trustees, and staff members. We discuss "Sponsorship - Remembering to
Practice our Principles". Great discussion. I will ask for our groups to discuss and input on the the topic for next year.
We break and then its back to start the regional reports. The Panel 53 delegates from our region are seated in front of the conference. It sure seems different up here. There are 135 pairs of eyes out there checking us out. Nervous, ask god into this deal. I am last. I share for two minutes on our area. We break and then come back to elect regional trustees. I almost start crying as I share about our nominee. I remember him lying in the hospital yet still willing to be of service. After 4 rounds it goes to the hat with past Delegate Area 10 is elected as Southwest Regional Trustee. We are blessed that he will be speaking at our Gratitude Dinner this year. Northeast and Trustee at large/Canada are elected. More area highlights from the West Central & Northeast Regions. The Northeast Delegates (known as the NERDS) are very vocal group.
Off to dinner- man what kind of food is this. I do not recognize it so I ask for some vegetarian food. I get pasta, ahh I know that. After diner we have a general question and answer session. (I need to make a handout for our assembly members.) then it is time to give our committee reports
We start committee reports. All in all the committees did a great job in not discussing their agenda items outside of the committee meetings. The CPC Committee has come out of the hat and will start the reports. The first reports can be tough as there are 135 people out there ready to ask lots of question and want to know why how and why recommendations were made. We all care so much. We told our committee chairperson that we would all slip out of the room and leave him up there all alone (just kidding) As a committee, we were unanimous on our decisions. We will support the committee. I went to the mike. Well, it is not that bad. There is lots of discussion on the wording of Singleness of Purpose statement. Someone from the floor offers a friendly amendment. First time I have ever heard the term. We move one word around. We do not leave our chairperson up there alone. As questions come from the floor the committee members take turn going to the mike and support the decisions. It is a good thing that we all are working together. The conference finally votes and we move on. Going first worked out just like it was suppose to.
Next is the finance committee. After some discussion the report was accepted. We break for the night. My brain is so full of info that I cannot sleep until midnight. God, please help me rest.
Thursday April 1 2003
Up early and out for a full breakfast. It will be a long day with reports all day. We go over 1st report and accept. Next we move on to the Literature Committee. I know this will be a long one (Lit Chair is up there for almost 8 hrs.) There are lots of questions, answers and much discussion. Opinions and ideas are varied. Some delegates seem to come instructed without the right of decision. Many delegates want to comment on every word, idea and punctuation. Some are referred to as wordsmiths. Thank you god that I am not in contention for the golden mike award. As I listen everything is said several times over. My job is to listen and vote in the best interest of A.A. as a whole.
We break for lunch and it is up to my room to raise my feet for 10 minutes yes yes. Back to work and more Q & A for Lit Chair. Her rear end must be killing her by now. All in all the literature committee has done a great job. So much work. I am not happy about letting Dr. Bobs story stays edited. Can I accept the group conscience? Hope we can bring it back to another conference as "no conference is binding on another". We work until 11PM. What a day. I am feeling drained mentally and physically. Lots of the NERDS (Northeast Regional Delegates) and Canadians are heading out to the world famous (in their minds) Stardust Diner. I graciously decline. We are to have another full day on Friday. My brain is full and will not calm down until midnight. Ah its great to get some rest.
Friday April 2, 2003
Up real early. We are to start one hour early so we can get through everything. Off to my breakfast haunt. I even find myself speaking a little Spanish to the employees. Then to the Serenity Group meeting. Great morning meeting. Oh no, all panel 53s names that are attending the meeting go in the hat for next years Serenity Group secretary and treasurer. My name comes out of the hat for the group secretary. I guess I will be busy next year. God has a sense of humor, to take an old drunk like me and put me here. We start the committee reports an hour early. The big issue of the morning is the fact that the Grapevine Board has gone to the Conference Grapevine Committee and made amends for a mistake. The committee has some strong additional consideration comments for the cooperate board. I felt as others do that we need to accept the amends and move on. Let us practice step 12.
On to the Agenda Committee. Much discussion on having a workshop next year on Litigation "How Does Litigation Serve Our Primary Purpose. My heart is full of gratitude. Are we going to get done today??? Class A Trustee says we might be sending out for pizza. Oh boy. 5PM -great finally does us no pizza tonight. Our Region makes plans to meet for dinner (on our own dime) should our area fully support the delegate???? /// I talk to other areas, and they do. They pay for all of the delegates expenses. If a delegate eats while he is on Area business it should be covered. He can always put it back in the basket. Some delegates are going to the ball game, some to a play. We meet at the Playwrite Restaurant. This whole area is in the heart of the Broadway plays. We talk and share. Its good to be winding down. I am beat. My body feels real tired. I head to the room after dinner. Able to shut down by 10:00PM. Oh what a blessing
Saturday April 3, 2003
Start packing early. Head down to the lobby and pick up early bird edition of Box 459. Hightail it back up to my room and fill envelops for our area committee. Hope they enjoy them. My mouth feels like it want to stay stuck shut from licking all the envelopes. Back downstairs and drop mail off. Then its to the closing brunch. Lots of pictures, tears and hugs. I sit with the French connection (all the French speaking delegates from Canada) They are great-what a crew. I will get to see the Panel 53's again next year and will miss my new friends who are 52's.
B my conference buddies have been great. Sharing what to do and what not to do. Checking on me to see that I got to my meetings and sharing their love. We are all so different yet so much the same.
The out going Trustees give their farewell talks. The Judge, issues a decree that there be no crying. She starts to break up at the end and then the tears flow. My eyes are full of tears after every speaker. One trustee shares about having a drunk dream and falling out of bed the night before. The outgoing trustees were so emotional about their service to the fellowship. They offered their experience, strength and hope to us all. I am already missing my new friends and thank all that I can. Many pictures, hugs and tears. Everyone wants to hold on to the moment. AA is in good hands. We will all carry the enthusiasm back to our areas.
I leave for the train station. I get my first ride in a New York cab. Whoa -the ride to Penn Station gives me a high speed experience with a New York cabbie. He was mad at first for the short fare but I gave him some good vibes from Southeast Texas. By the time we get there he is happy. (The tip helps)
Saturday May 3, 2003 12:30
As I leave New York on the train we travel under the Hudson River and back up into the daylight. I have been in tears all morning. I think that it is better to leave by train. I can slowly savor the experience as the skyline of New York fades in the background. The wonderful opportunity to serve. I look around the train and see people from all walks of life just like in AA. we are people who would not normally mix. I think of our fellowship and how we are we are all from different walks of life. How we gather and share. Our differences, our varied opinions.. We all hold the message of this program in our hearts. We go out hand in hand to carry the message and are willing to give it away. Our message transcends all boundaries. We did well at the conference. A.A. is in good hands.
Thank You all,
for these memories,
for my sobriety,
for my life
Panel 53 Delegate
Area 67 Southeast Texas