Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Salvation Diary 3

"Salvation" Artist Amanda Milke

September 28 Friday Day 16
I woke and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got up and took a shower at five-thirty in the morning. After a light breakfast I immediately went downstairs and said hello to Noah, then started a game of video chess. Even though the computer had me at a disadvantage I prevailed, and for the second time, I won! A good way to start the day.
I went upstairs and read the paper. A company I used to work for and own stock in is thinking about selling itself to the Japanese, and it looks more likely the United States may get itself into a shooting war in Iraq. If we do, maybe I’ll reenlist.
At one time I was in the Navy.
I read and wrote a lot during the day. At four o’clock I collected my gratuity (six dollars and a canteen card). Now I have nineteen dollars and some change. I went to work at three-thirty. Nothing much happens around here on Friday nights, so it’s very laid back, an easy night to work, and boring as hell. The hardest thing I did was to stop myself from breaking my diet by getting something to eat from the canteen. To help stop the temptation, I spent all my canteen cards on deodorant (much to the delight of my roommates), and read my book. When I got off work at midnight, I read in the bathroom until after one, then went once again, peacefully and with great dignity to bed.
September 29 Saturday Day 17
Had some Lucky Charms for breakfast, a glass of milk and some coffee. I said hello to Noah, and played video chess. I get the strange, Twilight Zonish feeling, that I’m doing the same things each day, over and over again.
Better than drinking I guess.
I called my mom at ten-thirty. She lives in Arizona. Bullhead City, Arizona, to be exact. Everybody is alright in Bullhead, my mother assures me. My grandmother is getting her teeth fixed. I don’t exactly know what’s the matter with her teeth, but if I find out I’ll be sure to let you know.
Roger, the canteen man, came down to the video game area at a quarter to eleven, wanting to use the video machine. The one I was using was the only one available (the other was broken). In the game I was playing the computer had the advantage, but not much of one. I gave up though, at twelve-fifteen, so Roger could play awhile before lunch. I went to work.
All the guys who were supposed to be back by curfew made it back in time. As I had an early wake up scheduled for five, I swiftly made my way to my bedchamber after completing my chores for the evening. Adieu.
September 30 Sunday Day 18
I keep thinking (hoping) that Wolfman will run out of stories to tell me about his life.
I am wrong.
At seven I had breakfast, and broke my diet a little. French toast and bacon.
During my morning shift I read when Mr. Vasquez was not around, which was most of the time. I also wrote.
After work, in which I was relieved seven minutes late by Charles Perry, I changed clothes and went down to say hello to Noah, then went to the video area. Somebody was using the video machine, so I turned on the other T.V., and watched “Key Largo,” with Humphrey Bogart (how many people do you know by the name of Humphrey these days?), Lauren Bacall, and Edward G. Robinson, who you just don’t see that much of anymore. A fine performance by the lovely Claire Trevor.
When the video machine was free I moved over and lost two games, then went to the rec. room to play bingo, and won. Oh Boy! Two canteen cards for me. I wanted to buy some shampoo from Roger, the canteen man, but he was out. I needed shampoo disparately, as the regular bar soap I had been using was giving me dandruff like crazy.
Flake City.
I had no alternative other than to cheat on my diet some more and used my new found wealth to buy an egg and cheese sandwich. And as I sat watching the VCR movie, “The Fog,” (based on a true story, I’m told) I decided I was hungry again. Roger was so busy by this time that it took me a full forty-five minutes to get a burger out of him. After I ate it, I returned to the small T.V. room to watch the end of the movie, but it was already over.
I returned downstairs to the video area, and grabbed an available T.V. set, to watch the season premier of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks.” Mr. Vasquez came down twenty minutes later and told me the video area was supposed to be closed at ten o’clock. It was ten-twenty, so I went back upstairs, hoping that “Twin Peaks,” was on in one of the small T.V. rooms. It wasn’t, they were watching something else, so I went to bed.
I feel all right these days. No dramatic mood swings, no bouts of ecstasy or deep depression. Mainly I feel satisfaction knowing that I’m doing the best that I can. Doing the right thing (finally), right now, not in the future, not at some later date.
This is good. The best I could hope for really, and that’s fine. I feel a little guilty that I ate like a slobbering, gluttonous pig today, but hopefully the world will not end because of it and I’ll still be alive in the morning to carry on.
October 1 Monday Day 19
For some reason today, or this morning rather, I was acting really tired, or lazy even. I slept right through breakfast, and did not want to get up for devotions, but did, then promptly went back to bed and slept until I was rudely awakened by a call over the P.A. system, requesting my presence in the lobby.
I was to meet my individual counselor, Richard.
When I got down there, Jack Crosley told me that my counselor was in the restroom, and that I should wait for him in the dining area. I sat at a table by the coffee machine, and just finished pouring myself a cup, when an older white gentleman, with graying white hair, entered the room sitting on what looked like a miniature golf cart. This contraption zipped quite easily up to the table I was sitting at, where he introduced himself. I tried not to act as if it were unusual for a man to ride around on such a device, hoping that I wouldn’t say, or do anything that might offend him. I believe that those who are handicapped, and not as fortunate as most of us, should be treated with respect and dignity, and that they would probably like us to treat them as if they were whole physically, and offer them no special considerations, other that what as human beings they would normally expect and deserve. Nevertheless, I found myself preparing to ask this man if he would like a cup of coffee, and was going to get it for him, when he suddenly rose from his seat, walked over to the coffee maker, and poured his own.
This was Richard. An ex-policeman and fireman, among other things. In his fifties, he is working on his bachelors degree, has over three years sobriety, and two years without cigarettes. He uses the motorized cart so he won’t have to walk too much. Apparently he had injured his back in an accident and experiences a lot of pain if he over stresses himself. The cart, like his education, has been paid for by one federal agency or another, and he tells me that he must continue to go to school or the government will call in his loans and may take his little cart back.
I didn’t get much that was particularly beneficial to me from our session mainly because he tended to talk about himself for most of it, and those techniques to maintain sobriety that work for him (he’s very big on higher power (God) stuff), and repeats himself over and over again. I put up with it for three reasons: (1) I had no choice but to put up with it, (2) I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, or discourage him in any way, and (3) I need all the help I can get.
I think though, that I may be doing us both a disservice by not voicing my needs. I would think about this.
After being thoroughly counseled, I read and wrote for a while, then played to a draw in a game of video chess.
Mondays are my busiest days behind the desk. The rush starts at four o’clock, when the boys in the warehouse get off work. They come at me as if I were a lone running back, when out of the thin air a ball appears in my hands, before 100 defensive tackles. I give them their dorm keys as they come inside; at the same time I’m supposed to be on the lookout for unsightly bulges in the men’s clothing, suggesting misappropriated articles taken from the warehouse.
After the initial upheaval I get to juggle five different counselors, all wanting different things from me at the same time. I also get to make sure George Staub’s classes are announced and start on time, and I take roll call for each. I attend two meetings myself. Bible Study with George, in which he discussed the various social relationships Christ had during his lifetime, and to a lesser degree, how those relationships helped to ostracize him from the existing orthodox Jewish establishment. George pointed out that Christ’s affiliations were deep, uncritical, unbiased, loving, totally without malice, honest, courageous, on and on.
I imagine, that if there is a God, and he, she, or it cares, it would be very good to have a relationship like that with he, she, or it. Much to the laity’s advantage, you might say. Many adhere to the old saying: “If there is a God, and I believe in him, then I’m all right. If there isn’t a God, and I believe in him, then it doesn’t matter. But if there is a God, and I don’t believe in him, I’m in deep shit! So I’ll believe in God to minimize my downside risk.”
Seems a bit self-serving to me. We always want something back. But I don’t really want to get on the subject of religion. My mind is cloudy enough as it is without trying to figure out who and what entity created the universe, and for what purpose, and my place in it. Personally, I tend to lean toward the Buddhist tradition, the Zen variety (and have so since High School), but really am pretty eclectic about it, in a mild, non-fanatic sort of way.
My second meeting is group counseling with George. He gave each of the twelve guys there a paper cup and a pen or pencil, and said, “The cup represents you, now do something with it.” He then abruptly got up and left. I hate these psychological parlor tricks mainly because I think it demonstrates a lack of imagination and laziness on the part of the therapist. He gets to go off and do whatever, while we’re stuck with these stupid cups! I got into it after a while though, and in a very Zen manner, cut a whole in the bottom of my cup, and nothing else. This of course symbolized my openness and objectivity, and willingness to exchange ideas, information, and feelings. When George returned, we all took turns discussing our cups. Big deal.
But I think I will keep my cup forever.
October 2 Tuesday Day 20
My day off! Another big deal.
I got up early, just for the pure sweet hell of it, and made a mad dash down to the library to read the morning paper before there was a chance of it being dissected by the thoughtless horde. I am very interested in what’s happening in the Middle East.
After breakfast I went to the atrium and said hello to Noah, played chess, and watched the news on T.V. I lost the chess match, but noticed that Bryant Gumball was in Berlin, and that at four P.M., my time; East Germany will cease to exist. So much has happened in that part of the world recently, with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and now German reunification. Learning that Germany has been a leading supplier of chemical agents to Iraq gives me cause for concern.
In my dorm later, with no one there to disturb me except the sleeping form of Dennis Castle, the Night Crawler helper, I continued to read what has turned into a wonderful (and long) novel, A Winter’s Tale, I also started reading a page or two out of the Bible, beginning where I left off while I was at the Van Nuys center, with the Second Book of Samuel. It’s not that I’m converting, or anything, I’ve just never read the book before, and I feel that my education lacks by not having read it. I also read a chapter from the Time Life Science book, The Mind. I found little new information, but it served as a refresher for a subject I find fascinating.
I wrote after lunch. I not only made an entry concerning the events of October First, but also about what happened on the fourteenth of last month, my second day here, and my first full day of sober living. I finished at three-thirty and read until dinner, and continued reading until it was time for Step Study group, in which we reviewed the exact same material we reviewed the first time I went to this class. I discovered a very interesting thing during this meeting. This Twelve Step study class will only explore the first three steps over and over again for the remainder of eternity! That’s all they do there, the first three steps, week after week. I suppose this is beneficial for newcomers to A.A., and fits into the scheme of things considering the amount of client turnover that goes on around here. But even for new people in A.A., this is going to get pretty boring, very soon. I’m already bored and I have seventeen more mandatory classes to attend.
Such is life.
I decided to got to the outside A.A. meeting tonight, specifically with the idea of developing some kind of outside support system. Near eight o’clock we took a van into South Pasadena, just a block and a half away from where I had been arrested in the gas station toilet last month. The meeting was being held at the St. James Church, in the auditorium. A typical A.A. speaker meeting, in which a guest speaker delivers a monologue concerning their drinking career and recovery for about an hour. I sat near the front with Kevin, a new man at the ARC. As this was a brand new attempt at sober living for me, I felt compelled to identify when asked, as a newcomer with less than thirty days sobriety. I did not feel like an A.A. newcomer, nor actually was one, having been in and out of the fraternity for over eight years. Still, I had less than thirty days, which was the point.
During the coffee break a man did come up and introduce himself to me. His name was Bill, and he told me of the different meetings that could be found in the area. People are like that sometimes at A.A. meetings. They’ll come up and introduce themselves, and tell you about different meetings in the area.
The speakers name was Ed, a male, of Japanese ancestry. He was well dressed, and in his middle to late fifties. His accent was American, and he spoke of how his father was taken from him at the outbreak of World War II, and put into a concentration camp somewhere in America, and how he and his mother were also eventually interned, and how they all suffered. There’s a lot of suffering going on, past and present.
He spoke of their reunion, and of how alcohol first affected him, and how it changed the rest of his life. He spoke of his efforts to stop drinking, and what living without booze was like for him. You could tell that he has spoken like this before. He was very good at it, interlacing humor with tragedy, warmth with pain.
When I returned to the residence I went to bed after getting my laundry stuff ready for the morning. I read for a while, feeling kind of melancholy, then went to sleep, and did not dream.
October 3 Wednesday Day 21
My new alarm clock that Mr. Vasquez had gotten for me, went off at five. I got out of bed at five-twenty. I grabbed my laundry bag and soap, and went to the laundry room, which I found to be locked. This surprised me. Many things surprise me, but last night there had been no door to the entrance of the laundry room.
I took my stuff back to my dorm, and then went to the library to read the newspaper. After breakfast I read some of The Winter’s Tale, novel, and got sleepy, so I decided to take a little nappy. Victor Robinson woke me by coming into my dorm and attempting to fix a broken lock on the locker next to mine. While he was there I lobbied for my dorm, saying, “You know Victor, this is the cleanest dorm by far, and really should be the winner tonight for Best Dorm, or at the very least, the Most Improved!”
“At the very least is right,” he chuckled. My dorm, due to certain apathy within its membership, had about as much chance of winning tonight as I did surviving on the surface of Pluto in my underwear. But as Randall Patrick McMurphy once said, “I tried, Damn it! At least I did that!”
Jack Crosley came in a little later. He was actually doing the judging for tonight’s festivities. He had a clipboard and everything. He took notes on a piece of paper that was attached to that clipboard, checking for neatness, if all personal items had been put away, if beds were made, stuff like that. I tried the same ploy I had tried with Victor with much the same results.
I finished my nappy just in time for lunch, naturally. And after that, I read some from the Bible, and some from The Mind book, then wrote. At one point, I needed to find out how many hours Berlin was ahead of us here in Pasadena. This was so I could write that at four P.M. yesterday, East Germany would cease to exist, as you may recall.
Anyway, I called my trusty AT&T operator by dialing 00 on one of the pay phones in the lobby.
“AT&T. May I help you?”
I had said those very words anywhere from 350 to 650 times a day, five days a week, for almost three years.
I never worked for AT&T. I just used to like to say that a lot.
No, no, I’m kidding. Forgive me, please. Really, I had been a long distance operator for that company. Really!
“Yes,” I continued, “I need to know what time it is in Berlin right now, please.”
“Oh, all right. One moment.”
I had said, “one moment,” about as many times as I had said, “AT&T, may I help you?” I could hear the lady operator enter the information request on the Computerized Operator Mechanized Position Information System, or COMPIS. She had to press her international button on the main menu, the enter GE, for East Germany, the type in, “Berlin.” She asked me, “West Berlin? I guess it’s the same, isn’t it?”
I said, “Yeah.”
“They are eight hours ahead of us, which would make it 8:48 P.M.”
By pressing one more button she could have told me the major holidays celebrated in Germany, if that country accepted collect calls, and if you could use a calling card there. Another button and she could have named all the cities in Germany, or 95% of the rest of the world that was sophisticated enough to have a telephone system, for that matter.
Indeed, I have spent many bored hours gazing at the lists of names of all the world’s cities.
I asked her, “Are you in the El Monte office?”
“No,” she answered, “Burbank.”
That’s where I had worked. My mind instantly transported me to the very office that the operator who was talking to me was sitting in at that very moment. I was tempted to ask her if she knew Jan Williams, but I didn’t. I said, “Thank you,” and hung up.
Armed with the information I had needed I tried to continue writing, but I found that my thinking had short-circuited. I could not keep from remembering how I had blundered away a good job at the Burbank office of AT&T. I couldn’t stop thinking about Jan, the girl I had spent over a seventh of my life with. My thoughts of her were contradictory, as they often are. Intense anger, balanced by loving affection and longing.
I realized it would be pointless to continue in this remorse, so I tried to put Jan out of my mind and get on with my work.
I had agreed to cover for Charles Perry at the desk for a few hours tonight. In turn, he would do the same for me some time next week. He wanted to go to an outside A.A. meeting. He’s quite a social butterfly.
Chapel at five-forty five. We sang some songs, heard some testimonies. Ho hum. My dorm lost out on the awards deal.
I didn’t do any work at the desk, just handed out keys or took them in. I read a lot. When Charles returned I ate a donut, then went upstairs and crawled into bed.
Maybe it was because of the two large cups of coffee I had drank at the desk tonight (caffeine usually doesn’t bother me), but I couldn’t get to sleep for at least two hours. Maybe it was my thoughts of Jan. When I did sleep, under tonight’s full moon, I did dream.
October 4 Thursday Day 22
This morning I paid my respects to Noah, the parrot, won a game of video chess, and read sections of the three books I’ve already mentioned. I took a little nap in the afternoon, and then got ready for work.
Victor, Charles, and I would be working, but at two-thirty when I arrived, Victor was headed upstairs to take a long break (This was one of the two days in which he works from six on the morning until eleven at night), and Charles would be late, so I had the place to myself for the first hour or so.
Thursday nights are similar to Monday nights for me. Very busy, with lots of counselors to look after and meetings to go to. George Staub told me to be on the look out for two new counselors he was expecting this evening. A Charles and a Stacy. Charles showed up while I was eating dinner and was ushered into the Blue Room where George was eating. Stacy came about ten minutes later.
George had said that I would recognize or know Stacy when she arrived. He described her as a “cute, blonde girl.” Well, there certainly was a lack of those around here and she was all of what George said she would be, so it wasn’t too terribly hard to pick her out of the crowd. The word “beautiful,” could be used to describe Stacy. So could “beauteous, prepossessing, lovely, graceful, delicate, fair, comely, seemly, bonny, good-looking, eye-filling, photogenic, telegenic, well-favored, well-proportioned, curvaceous, shapely, symmetrical, harmonious, sightly, easy on the eyes, nifty, stunning, devastating, flawless, radiant, perfect, splendid, picturesque, resplendent, becoming, dazzling, magnificent, glowing, sleek, gorgeous, fine, attractive, enchanting, and undeformed.” She definitely made an impression on me. I was delighted to see no rings adorning her dainty fingers. I volunteered to escort her to the Blue Room to join George and Charles. She seemed quite pleasant and friendly, and I immediately started thinking about how I could successfully change counselors.
The Substance Abuse Seminar was the first class for me tonight. George elaborated upon the harmful affects alcohol and cocaine had upon the cardiovascular, central-nervous, and digestive systems. Old stuff for me, but a nice review. Charles and Stacy were in attendance.
A typical AA panel meeting later. I won’t go into it.
Nothing much else happened for the rest of the evening. One man checked out of the program. Another had apparently went to work in the morning and never returned to the residence. Two more empty beds.
I looked over at Charles Perry at about ten-thirty, and said, “I need to get a new counselor.”
“Who’s your counselor now?” he asked.
“Which one?”
“The one that travels around in that little golf cart thing.”
“Oh,” he said.
“I need someone… someone… who understands me. Someone who can firmly show me the error of my ways, and teach to me how wonderful life can be. Someone who can point out the subtle intricacies of sober living, and the hazards of a continued reckless lifestyle, punctuated with endless bouts of alcoholic frenzy, of emotional turmoil, or drug orientated lunacy. Someone who will not be afraid to give of themselves freely, and be totally committed to my cause. Someone who can take the time to get deeply involved in my recovery, make it a personal issue. Someone who at once can be a friend, a teacher, a guide, someone with the most fantastic legs I’ve ever seen in my entire adult existence. Someone like…”
When I went to bed tonight, I read, and when I tried to go to sleep I had no trouble.
October 5 Friday Day 23
I read in today’s paper of a weapon that Iraq might have, and that the U.S. has just found out about. A weapon that may prove very effective against ground personnel, and stationary targets, such as troop encampments, oil rigs, and refineries, all of which are in abundance in Saudi Arabia, where our forces are massed. The weapon is named a Fuel-Air Device. If detonated properly it can be ten times as powerful as conventional explosives of the same size, which also creates a huge shock wave effect that could be comparable to a small nuclear bomb. The United States, it appears, does not stockpile this type of device, so presumably the only effective response to its use by the Iraqi’s would be to counter with nuclear or chemical weapons.
Frightening stuff.
It’s nice of the Central Intelligence Agency to tell us all of this after we got our boys and girls over there.
In other news, the U.S. government is broke after Congress voted down a new budget proposal that was backed by President Bush. I was kind of glad about that. The proposed tax seemed to unfairly tax the poor 7% more than they were already being taxed, and the wealthy only 2%. The Republicans and Democrats both voted down the issue, probably not due to its unfairness, but because it is an election year. Strange business politics. Mr. Bush has stated that he will veto any attempt to borrow money to keep the government in operation, which will hopefully bring about a quick solution to this crisis. We shall see. National parks are slated to close tomorrow.
I was taking a little nap when Robert (Mr. Vasquez) announced, “Pay day! Pay day! Pay day! Not May Day. Come on down and get your gratuity, gentlemen. In-house payday. Come on down,” over the PA system, at two-thirty. I raked in $7 and a canteen card, increasing my total net worth to $26.
I began work at three-thirty. It was my turn to go out to an outside A.A. meeting tonight, while Charles watched the desk for me. He tried everything his sleazy little mind could think of to get out of it, even offering me real money, but I held him steady. After all, it was a question of principle.
We went to the 202 Club, right in Pasadena. It reminded me very much of The Whole In The Wall, in Canoga Park, a small, informal gathering place. A fair participation meeting where alcoholics take turns talking about anything that comes to mind, hopefully something to do with coping through life without using alcohol. Little cliques of frequent members were apparent. Half of those there seemed just starved for attention, but that’s how we are.
I got back to the residence a little after ten, and finished my shift. I polished off A Winter’s tale, which if you like humorous and vague, modern fairy tales, I highly recommend it.
I went to sleep tonight remembering Peter Lake and his beautiful white horse, and that life can be very unfair and very cruel.
October 6 Saturday Day 24
I got up early and read the morning paper until five-forty five. The Smithsonian Museum and the Washington Monument are closed today due to a lack of funds. We are still in Saudi Arabia. Nothing much else that’s interesting. Oh, NASA finally got a shuttle into orbit after an extended period of delay due to mechanical difficulties. This mission will launch a satellite that will hopefully, after gaining momentum from a gravity assist by detouring around Jupiter, achieve a polar orbit around the Sun, allowing it to photograph and study those never before seen regions.
At five-forty five I went to the basement near the pianos, to a lone chair in a secluded corner. I have started to practice meditation once again. I have been doing so since last Thursday, and I apologize for forgetting to mention it. I’m starting out slowly, with only ten minutes a day. I find it pleasant and relaxing.
After a hearty breakfast I played a game of video chess, and won. I said hello to Noah, the parrot. Noah was fine and doing well. Victor came down and asked me if I would cover for him at the desk for a couple of hours while he attended a driver’s education class. He himself was covering for Mr. Vasquez, who had left the building on some personal errand. So at nine o’clock I went to the desk, and read and wrote for most of the time I was there. Victor returned at eleven-eleven.
After lunch I played another game of video chess, feeling lucky. It was a long, drawn out affair, and although I did not win, I did not lose either. The game ended after my meretricious opponent was left with a king and a knight, to my lonely king. It could have gone on until the Big Crunch (or the Big Freeze, depending on how much mass is around) at the end of the universe, so I ended it, calling it a draw, thereby giving the video chess machine no chance to catch me unawares and do me some devious trickery.
After this exhausting battle of wits, I relaxed by reading another of Barker’s short stories, this one concerning evangelists and ghosts in a Texas motel the went to work.
Since Victor supposedly worked the day shift, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of working with the unflappable Robert Vasquez, formerly of Globe, Arizona. This meant that I was not allowed to drink coffee at the desk, or openly read a book, both of which I did anyway when Mr. Vasquez meandered off on one of his many excursions throughout the building, and to points beyond.
I shall now go so far as to venture forward into real time, and state unequivocally that I am now writing this from the desk, at by my watch (Seiko alarm chronograph, a gift from my lovely mother), precisely eleven-fifty and forty-four seconds A.M., on Sunday, the seventh of October, 1990, during my six to two-thirty tour of duty. I will now go back in time (for the sake of those who get nauseous easily after too much bouncing about) to Saturday night, where I have just now gotten into bed and fallen asleep.
October 7 Sunday Day 25
The Wolfman woke me at five, a horrible experience in itself, let alone the early hour. I actually got out of bed at five-thirty, and stumbled into the bathroom, where I came to the conclusion that I really didn’t need a shower, so I stumbled back into my dorm where I put on my spiffy Sunday uniform, then stumbled down to the desk, and was hard at work by five-forty-five.
While reading the Sunday paper I tried in vain to ignore Wolf as he told me everything I didn’t want to know about his past. Mr. Vasquez began his six A.M. shift at six-forty five. His shift ends at eleven P.M. He has a long day ahead of him.
Nothing earth shaking happened during the shift. Someone called to tell us that they had lost their wallet and keys yesterday in the Alhambra store, and wanted to know if those items had were still in the store (fat chance). They were really adamant about it, so Robert took a drive over there to look. He didn’t come back until after my shift, at two-thirty, so I didn’t find out if he found anything (fat chance).
While chapel service had been going on upstairs, I had practiced meditation behind the desk, and had done all my writing for the day, so after work I changed my clothes and read. After dinner I watched “Star Trek, the Next Generation,” on T.V., a particularly insightful and touching episode in which Captain Picard went on leave (after last weeks terrifying abduction by the Borg) to his family home in France to visit his estranged brother. The human parents of Mr. Worf (an adoptee, just like me), a Klingon, paid him a visit aboard the Enterprise, and for his eighteenth birthday present, Wesley viewed a holographic message from his long dead father.
Family night!
And then, Bingo time! The fun never ceases.
I lost miserably.
Licking my wounds, I thought that a win at the video chess might make me feel better about myself. I was doing pretty well until I let my queen be taken by a wretched, pox-ridden, little pawn that came out of nowhere. I conceded the game.
Downtrodden, I retired to my room, and continued to read “Songs from Distant Earth,” a novel I had started earlier in the day, from Arthur C. Clark, my favorite sci-fi author.
I then went to sleep, dreaming of smoking cigarettes on worlds far away.
October 8 Monday Day 26
I laid comatose for twelve hours, missing morning devotions. At ten-thirty, I crawled out of bed, took a shower, and except for the tie, dressed for work. I read a little, then ate lunch, after which I read some more, then wrote until it was time for work.
No time for video chess today. I waved to Noah from the lobby window. Noah waved back.
I relieved Charles Perry at two-twenty five. Monday’s begin quite deceptively, nice and quite at the beginning with no one around… a raging panic near the end. My shift partner and boss, Mr. Vasquez, went across the street to the weekly staff meeting, and I was alone. I could do anything I wanted to. Exercise my power as a desk man to its uppermost limits, give conflicting, or nonsensical orders, have everyone do my bidding or I’d toss them out on their ear. Have my way with helpless female counselors as the become enthralled by the way I exude power and leadership, strength and security. Run amok if I so desired.
I usually settle for sneaking a cup of coffee to the desk before Robert gets back, which he did ten minutes early today, at two-fifty.
He asked me how I was. “Mr. Joyce,” he said, “how are you?”
I said, “Fine, sir.”
“Good,” he says.
He gave me the mail, and the reentry program appointment slips for the coming week, which I placed in the appropriate key boxes, to be given to the appropriate residents, as they returned from work at the appropriate time. Mr. Vasquez disappeared. The Night Crawler began its nightly crusade. I got to monitor its progress as it made its way through Covina, El Monte, The City of Industry, Pomona, Alhambra, Tujunga, La Canada, then back to good old Pasadena.
I juggled five counselors, plus George Staub. We also had a visit from the wife of the Territorial Commander, Mrs. Col. Allen. She came to pick up a suspicious package.
I attended two meetings, Bible Study, and group counseling, directed by George. In Bible Study I learned about some interesting details concerning the basic differences between Christianity and Judaism, and aspects of the political situation during the time of Christ.
I missed the beginning of group counseling because Robert had not returned from disappearing yet, but when I got there they were talking about having dreams of using drugs and alcohol. I related that that very morning, I had dreamt of smoking cigarettes. I told them I could not remember any details of the dream, but that I had woke thinking about how good it would be when I had my first cigarette of the day, feeling disappointment as I became more alert and remembered that I had quit smoking (damn alertness!), then feeling proud of myself because I had quit, then forgetting about it altogether. I told the group that this was the first such dream I have had of this nature, and that I was a little surprised that I had not had more. If I continued not to act because of dreams like these, or rather, not smoke because of them, then they didn’t particularly bother me, or cause me undo concern. It is a little scary though, when you realize that your own subconscious, or dreams, can help to do you in.
The rest of the night went fairly well. One client, who had gone to the hospital in the morning, did not come back, and didn’t bother to call us to explain why, so we gave him the boot (discharged him from the program).
After work I went to bed and read for a while, then took a right turn into dreamland.
October 9 Tuesday Day 27
I managed to get up early today. Earlier than yesterday at least. I was out of bed at six-twenty five, and first in line for breakfast at six-thirty. After devotions, I meditated for ten minutes, then equipped with a calm, clear, peaceful attitude, and a wonderful sense of serenity, I proceeded to attack the cunning, insidious, and guileful video chess machine, and was summarily wiped out four times!
I don’t believe I wish to discuss this matter further.
I received a card from my mother in the mail. It was of the “Don’t give up hope, it will be all right, every cloud has a silver lining,” variety. She must think I’m really depressed, which I’m not. I’m getting along well with everybody. Because of my job I come into contact with all the guys on a daily basis, so isolating is hardly a problem, as it has frequently been in the past. I do my job well, and get along easily with my boss, Mr. Vasquez. That is usually a good thing. I attend all my meetings, and am there on time, so George is happy with me. I have pleasant, although short, conversations with Major Johnson every Sunday morning. I mind my own business. I get the feeling that I am generally well liked, and may even be respected a little bit, possibly because I believe myself to be fair and don’t abuse the power others may think I have, which of course, is in itself a form of power. And people are surprised by my quite endearing, and sometimes offbeat sense of humor. For my part, I am comfortable here. I have no desire to stay here any longer than I need to, but for right now I think that this is a good place for me to be. The price is right. Early sobriety is a delicate time, and as I’ve said before, right now I’m taking it very easy, very slowly, one day at a time, one thing at a time.
And I’m not depressed. Nice of my mom to send the card though.
Dinner over, I read until it was time to for the Step Study meeting. Steps 1, 2,and 3, over and over.
I went to the outside A.A. meeting next. Seven of us were driven to the same church we went to last week. A professional comedian was the speaker tonight, and he was quite good. Very Funny. At least the parts that I heard. My attention did wander a bit toward the beautiful brunette in the second row who was there to get her court card signed (a document designed to prove attendance at12 Step meetings for the judiciary).
We returned to the center by ten-fifteen, and I went to bed and finished reading the Clark book. It was a good book, and a good way to end the day.
October 10 Wednesday Day 28
The Clark book must have taken a lot out of me, as I slept in until nine. When I did get up, I showered, then went to the dinning room and had a cup of coffee (after getting dressed). I got through my reading and writing for the day, and started a new Time/Life book, Food and Nutrition, also a new novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. So far, it’s very funny. I have a sneaking suspicion that the author is British.
I even found time to play five games of video chess, winning three! NOT TOO SHABBY! I do admit that after yesterday I may have gotten a bit carried away. During my second victorious game I wiped my enemy clear off the board except for the king, which I toyed with, showing no mercy. I transformed all my remaining pawns into queens, surrounded the hapless king, and began to squeeze.
Yes, and delightedly so! I even went so far as to leave the checkmated king on the board when I left the basement for a break, so my unequivocal triumph would imprint itself forever upon the computer’s memory circuits.
I was trounced horribly in the very next game.
Chapel service was short because Ernie Senes gave the message. Ernie does not like to talk in front of large groups. My dorm lost the awards again.
At seven o’clock twelve of us piled into the van, and ventured into northern Pasadena, Altadena actually, to a small church for another outside meeting. Not an A.A. meeting however, Cocaine Anonymous (C.A.) tonight. A lively participation group.
I am not addicted to cocaine. I have used it in the past, and have always thought it a nice, pleasant drug, but exceedingly expensive for the slight effect it produces. I don’t believe I’ve actually bought the drug, or if I did, only once or twice. I’ve gotten it mostly from other people who’ve turned me on to it (gave it to me). My second wife, Debbie, gave me a lot, she having been a dealer in the substance. At the time I was introduced to the drug the street price was anywhere from $100 to $120 for a gram of the white powder. A gram is a very small amount which I could consume in one sitting easily, and still it’s effect would be difficult to detect and short lived. That was the reason that I didn’t purchase the drug usually, though I never turned it down if it were offered to me.
This was way before people began smoking condensed versions of cocaine, crack, or “free base.” I have never done this. I have been told that I am fortunate that I haven’t because this method of consumption of this version of the drug is extremely addictive. I believe them. This is one time I am willing to learn from other people’s experience. In this matter I am very wise, and display vast maturity.
But only in this matter.
The price of powder cocaine has remained fairly stable throughout the years. It seems to be inflation proof.
During the meeting one man took a chip (a small plastic token, similar to poker chip, designating various periods of sobriety) for eighteen months without using the cocaine. He shared this with us, “I drank and used drugs for twenty seven years, and never lost anything. I had a car, family, house, job, lots of money. Then I started smoking crack, and within three years I lost it all.”
Those of us who attend these meetings are all (usually) substance abusers. That is why though primarily an alcoholic and nicotine addict, I can attend C.A. and Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.) meetings, and feel a part of them, and gain something from them that might help me with my own addictions. What happened to that man with cocaine happened to me with alcohol. I simply took a little longer than three years for me to lose everything. Some who go to these meetings are disdainful, or intolerant of others who use a different drug than the one that they use. This is nothing less than silly. Alcohol, cocaine, and narcotics are all used for the same reason, and all can make you equally dead. C.A., N.A., and many others, have taken and used the tenants of Alcoholics Anonymous because they have proven to work for a large number of individuals over significant periods of time.
I believe it may be the only thing that can work for me.
We shall see.
October 11 Thursday Day 29
A brand new day begins. A beautiful, lovely day here in sunny Pasadena. Great to be alive! Great to be able to get out of bed in the morning. Great to have a bed to get out of. Every sober day is a good one!
Don’t you just hate cheerful people early in the morning? I do.
I crawled out of bed at five-fifteen, and crawled down to the library to read the morning paper. Nothing important is happening except for the folks who keep getting themselves killed during training exercises in Saudi Arabia, especially at night. Pilots claim that they’re having difficulty seeing in absolute darkness. Imagine that. Ha! What the hell are we paying these high-tech, turbo jockeys for anyway? We give them the latest in night vision technology, so what if there’s no depth perception and they can’t tell the desert floor from the sky! That’s what altimeters are for, if they’re working. These helicopters and jets cost a lot of money! Please, let’s have some consideration for the American taxpayer.
Enough of current events.
I went to the basement, to the lone chair by the pianos to meditate. After ten minutes, the cool, clear, effervescent, silky sounds of the Wolfman’s voice permeated my stilled conscious. “Good morning Gentleman! This is your six o’clock wake up! Your six o’clock wake up! This is laundry day for dorms forty, forty-one, forty-two, forty-three, for rooms twenty-four and twenty-five. Breakfast will be in forty-five minutes. Six o’clock wake up!”
We get this every morning.
In my room I read the Bible for a while. I made my bed, then went to the rec. room, and watched the morning news in T.V., while reading a novel. I got in line to eat. I ate. I then listened to morning devotions.
I won a game of video chess before being wiped out four times in a row.
I wrote for a while, then changed into sweats and worked out in the weight room for thirty minutes, doing sit ups mostly, push ups, stretching, plus some lifting of heavy objects.
Work was somewhat hectic this evening. George was running around getting everybody all excited. Victor couldn’t seem to quite get a handle on things, and Charles quite simply, couldn’t be bothered. I performed flawlessly though, keeping my head while those around me were losing theirs.
The lovely Stacy came tonight, ignoring me completely. Next week I will ignore her and play hard to get. Unfortunately, this ploy usually winds up with me not getting got. A definite indication of imperfection of design.
Substance Abuse Seminar dealt with the curious phenomena of relapse, as you’ll recall, something I’m intimately familiar with. Again, old stuff for me, but a good review. I am happy to say that at the present time I do not seem to be suffering from relapse warning signs. But wait! Could that in itself be a relapse warning sign? I know I don’t feel like relapsing today, so I’ll worry about it tomorrow. If tomorrow comes.
The A.A. Panel was typical, but interesting. Tonight’s message seemed to be that’s all right to be brain damaged, or half crazy.
After work I went to my room and talked to my roommate Gordon for a while. I think I’m falling madly in love with his daughter, although I’ve only seen her once. I’ve talked to her on the phone twice when she was looking for her dad. Her name is Dori. What a nice name for a girl to have. She’s in her middle twenty’s probably, and very cute, although she does look a little like her father.
It seems that it’s pretty easy for me to fall madly in love right now, a direct consequence of being sober. I’ll have to watch myself.
October 12 Friday Day 30
Got up, read the paper, meditated, ate breakfast, listened to devotions, played chess, lost, wrote, read, had lunch, read again, took a nap, and got ready for work.
I did not exercise for four reasons. First: I’m lazy. Second: After my big workout yesterday, I was really sore. Most of my muscles ached, which I suppose means that they got a good workout, which is a good thing, but it’s not very good for things like moving. Third: I had heard that the maintenance crew was working on the hot water heater, so I assumed that it may have been impossible to shower after exercising. Fourth: I’m lazy.
I will start again on Monday.
At three-thirty I started work. I called the Pasadena Counsel on Alcoholism, and asked about a particular text I had begun to use at the Canoga Park center concerning relapse prevention. They gave me the author’s name and where I might find a copy. George Staub also wanted to know.
It was a distinct pleasure and honor for me to take myself, Rico Montgomery, and one other client, off the restriction list for tomorrow. It has been thirty days here. Thirty good days.
October 16 Tuesday Day 34
Partial At the LAC/USC Medical Center (General Hospital)
Shklovskii, Intelligent Life in the Universe). Mr. Strauber is also a successful novelist. I have read one of his other books, Wolfen, about super-smart wolves in New York, which was made into a movie starring the irrepressible Albert Finney.
One must not be naïve about these things. In order to maximize profits, Mr. Strauber could be exploiting a public craving for stories of the weird and unexplained. Indeed, Communion, has been on the bestseller lists. Factually he provides little credible evidence, and his personal testimonies are tainted by his vested interest in promoting this account. Having said that, it is an interesting book all the same.
While waiting I managed to make an entry into this journal. It’s good to be economic with your time. We have so little of it.
At precisely seven-thirty, a black lady opened the door to the office, and gave to each of us who were waiting a numbered ticket. Mine was number one. That accomplished, she then instructed us to go to another part of the hospital. We all filed off, one after another to that location, finding no one there. Twenty minutes later a whole slew of individuals appeared out of nowhere, some of them handing out more numbered tickets. I got one of those, and again my number was one. We were then instructed to wait some more (they’re very big on waiting here). Five minutes later a man wearing a stethoscope around his neck called out my number and asked what it was I needed. I told him that I would like to make an appointment with a dermatologist. He asked why I needed to see a dermatologist. I told him I had a rash. He then asked if he could see it, the rash that is, that he could probably give me some medication today. I said okay. We went into a screened examination area, and I showed my rash to him.
I sure hope he was a doctor.
He told me that I should stop wearing tight fitting underwear, and all my pants should be made of cotton. I said, sure. He then gave me another numbered ticket and instructed me to go back to the office where I started out.
At the office where I had started out, the same black lady took my numbered ticket and instructed me to take a seat in the first row of chairs that they had there. Five minutes later she called me to one of the interviewing windows and began asking me a lot of administrative type questions, like how I intended to pay for the medical services I would soon be receiving. I told her that I had no intention of paying for anything, that I was homeless and unemployed (even though I was living at the Salvation Army, legally I was considered homeless). She said, okay, that that was fine, that I would need to go to the billing office anyway within the next ten days, and apply for the Ability To Pay program (A.T.P.). I assured her I would do this. The billing office was right in front of the hospital in trailer number 21. I knew exactly where it was. She then gave me some paperwork, surprisingly without a numbered ticket, and instructed me to go back to the place I had just come from and dump all my completed paperwork into a basket that they had there. That accomplished, another black lady called me. We went into a small booth where she took my temperature and blood pressure. She wrote out an appointment slip for the dermatologist and a prescription note for some ointment that I could pick up before leaving.
I said, “Thank you,” then left.
I walked to the pharmacy down the hall and turned in my prescription. It would take about an hour, so instead of walking around aimlessly and getting depressed remembering the last time I had been here, I decided to take care of the A.T.P. application, and went outside to trailer 21, and got into a big line. I was not number one there, and so had to wait. An hour and a half. When I was finished, I got my prescription, and got the hell out of there.
Naturally, I got back to the residence right before lunch. Tostados. Afterwards, I talked to Richard, my counselor, and told him how swell I was doing. He was glad to hear it.
I read and wrote some more during the afternoon. Lost a game of video chess.
At the weekly Step Study meeting we learned all about Steps One, Two, and Three.
Instead of going to an outside A.A. meeting tonight, I decided to stay at the residence and relax, citing fatigue after getting up so early this morning. I planned to go out tomorrow and get my chip.
I went to my dorm, intending to lie down and read, and maybe get to sleep early. I wound up going out with my roommate, Gordon, to the Radio Shack store in the mall along Colorado Blvd. He needed something from there. It was a pleasant walk, a clear, cool evening, and I enjoyed talking to Gordon, a fifty year old ex-con, who was still feeling uncomfortable living outside of prison.
As I have mentioned, he has an attractive daughter.
We stopped by the pet shop while at the mall. I looked at the parakeets. I wanted to replace the one that had died, so the other wouldn’t be so lonely. They were too expensive for me though.
I got back and wrote a little, the went to bed and read until I fell asleep…
October 17 Wednesday Day 35
…for almost twelve hours. I had planned to get up early and go run around the park a few times, but I guess I didn’t want to bad enough. Anyway, I got out of bed… actually, I just reached across my bed to my nightstand and grabbed my Bible, and read a few chapters, then finished the “Food and Nutrition” book. Now I am an expert on food and nutrition, and can one day be a trophologist.
I had early lunch (no one seems to be paying much attention to Mr. Senes edict about eating early), then took off to the park with my radio headphones and blanket, and relaxed in the warmth of the sun for an hour, rediscovering the joys of music and ants.
While sitting in the park I thought about the pros and cons of going back into the Navy. The pros: the Navy is a steady and secure job, with plenty of opportunity for advancement. If I went back in I could conceivably save a virtual shit load of money by not drinking away all my earnings. If I don’t drink it would be unlikely that I’d spend money chasing around exotic women. I could also save by living on board ship, and I don’t even smoke anymore. That’s about a thousand a year, right there. I would once again have the opportunity to travel around the world, and by remaining sober, hope to actually remember some of it. My family would once again have reason to be proud of me, and I might be able to continue my education at little or no cost.
The cons: tomorrow the United States (whose particular Navy I would be interested in joining) may be at war, and there would be an inherent possibility I could get killed. A serious consideration.
I do not believe myself to be an exceptionally brave person, or a hero type guy, but I don’t think the threat of harm to myself would stop me from doing something I felt strongly about, or from trying to protect someone I cared for. Hell, I’ve already been killing myself for years with alcohol.
But it’s hard for me to get all worked up, and patriotic and all, about participating in a war which is essentially about an automobile lubricant. I mean really… why should I die or be injured (or anyone else for that matter) to keep the price of gasoline low. I can imagine a whole slew of better, more noble causes I’d consider sacrificing myself for (distressed damsels), not that I’m all that eager to become a martyr.
Besides, when I look at what I wrote for the reasons for returning to the Navy, I realize that those reasons constitute a cop out, or have illusory meaning for me. I can certainly continue my education as a civilian (others do it all the time… teenagers even), for little or no cost, starting earlier than if I were in the service. Contrary to popular belief I’m not getting any younger, and the sooner I start my extended education, the better. After school I should be able to find a decent job, for a reasonably fair amount of pay (despite Reagan and Bush). I’m usually pretty good about saving money (when I’m sober), so that should be no problem. There are only a few places in the world that I haven’t been that I’d like to see, and the Persian Gulf isn’t one of them. My family would be proud of me whatever I did, as long as I kept my act together. I can’t be doing things for them anyway. I must do things for myself, because I want to do them. And I remember, that while I was in the Navy, about the only thing I ever thought about was getting out. I remember why too. The long hours, the Mid-watches, the endless, thankless jobs. The infantile, idiot officers I was forced to work for. On and on.
My thirty-fifth birthday is coming up in a little over a week, the cut off age for reenlistment.
I think I’ve decided not to join, and I believe my reasoning is sound.
My stress factor declined considerably.
I still have time to change my mind though.
Something very strange happened after dinner. I was in my dorm, talking to Gordon while changing my pants for chapel. As I was leaving the room he asked me if I wanted a kiss. I said, “What?” He said, “Do you want a kiss?” and pursed his lips together and approached me. I laughed it off, and closed the door between us. I thought he was joking, but the more I thought about it the more it disturbed me.
Gay guys really crack me up.
He really had been in prison too long.
And what was it about my demeanor that would indicate to Gordon I may be receptive to his amorous advances? I’m obviously a virile, potent, exceptionally handsome and healthy heterosexual, manly man. Oh well.
I was sitting in church, minding my own business, when Mr. Vasquez called me out to relieve Victor at the desk. Robert wanted Victor to read the responsive reading part of the service. I was only too glad to help out.
After chapel I changed clothes and walked to the supermarket, and stole about twenty-five bucks of stuff that I needed. Sunglasses, shampoo, toothpaste, batteries, and a comb.
I know! It was very, very bad of me, and I’ll never do it again!
I went to the outside A.A. meeting at the Women’s Club in South Pasadena. A speaker meeting. Nice. Lots of women there, appropriately enough. No chips. The van was about a half an hour late in picking us up afterwards, so when I got back I went straight to bed.
October 18 Thursday Day 36
Last night I had set my alarm for five, and actually got up at five after five. Amazing. I truly sprang out of bed, got my jogging shoes and sweat shirt (I had slept with my sweat pants on), took my radio headset, and five minutes later was running around the park listening to old Beatles songs. Nothing quite like it.
I read the paper when I got back. Still hassling about the budget.
After breakfast I went back over to Union Station. I like this meeting. It’s short, only an hour long. There’s not much but homeless and poor people there, just like me. Not much risk of this turning into a fashion show. This place reminds me of where I came from such a short time ago, and where I could return by taking just one drink.
The folks who live here, and others like myself who rely on institutions like the Salvation Army, or the United States government, are in a tenuous position at best. I know the Park is only a few blocks away, and I must work hard everyday in order to keep myself from going back there. I must also remember the unfairness of life, and that I do everything I can, everything that my nature allows to keep myself above water, still something, anything might happen (like Victor finding an empty liquor bottle I didn’t have anything to do with in my locker when I’m not there), and SNAP! Back in the soup again.
Not much different from you, dear reader. Us homeless are a downtrodden mirror of yourself. If things take a turn for the worse the soup is there for all of us. One paycheck away from it, as some would say (but certainly not me). Don’t count on Uncle Sam to help. Oh he’s glad to take our hard earned money, but quite indifferent to our precipitous fortunes, believe me.
Uncle Sam is out for himself, greedy, selfish bastard.
Am I being cynical? Am I being unfair and prejudicial in nature. Am I over generalizing huge and specific problems facing our society at large?
Yes, and delightedly so! At the same time I realize it’s nobody’s fault that I am an alcoholic, and that I’m in the mess that I’m in. According to recent theory it’s nobody’s fault (except perhaps my biological parents, but I’d choose alcoholism to never having been born, any day), not even mine. I did not wake up one morning all enthusiastic about becoming an addict and homeless person. But I am stuck with the reality of the situation, and am aware that I must deal with these problems by myself, because I know now that no one else can do it for me. I’ve tried. I’ve gone on for years thinking others might solve my problems for me. That always got me further into the pit.
But that does not mean we cannot ask for help. We are unlikely to cope alone. That’s what A.A. is all about.
A lot of those at the Union Station meetings are still on the street with no homes to go to, wanting a meal, or a cup of coffee. Half of them I wouldn’t trust further that I can spit a rat. Some of them make very perceptive observations about themselves, a prerequisite for change.
“All my life I’ve compared myself to other people and asked why am I so poor, while there’s so many rich people around. All the time I thought God had it out for me, so it was okay to do the things I did, because he didn’t care anyway.”
“I’ve never met anyone who was not worse off for knowing me.”
Both of the above statements demonstrate a dire loss of self-esteem that prevails throughout the ranks of those afflicted with problems of addiction.
These are not stupid, worthless people here, although they may feel that way about themselves. There is much potential in this room. What is happening with our homeless and addicted is a human tragedy of enormous proportions, occurring not in some foreign third world country that is helpless to do anything about it, but right around the corner from where we live, affecting our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers.
And the problem won’t go away; it’s been destroying human lives for millennia. Our country has not formulated a realistic, workable solution to it, substituting politically based prohibitive and punitive measures, rather than utilizing preventive and therapeutic substantive goals that may actually help to alleviate the misery we, the affected experience on a daily basis. No, our pattern has been to ignore the problem, sweep it under the carpet in hopes that it will go away, while all we get is a lumpier carpet, which we continuously trip over.
Sad, sad, so very sad.
Back at work, we lost a man. An older gentleman by the name of Rodolfo. He didn’t make it back by the eleven o’clock curfew. I had seen him this morning as I came back from my run. He had asked me if I had any cigarettes, or if I had change for a dollar. I told him no, that I didn’t. I don’t smoke anymore, and at the time I didn’t have any pockets to carry change. Later in the day I thought I saw him lying down in the Park, but wasn’t sure that it was him. I found out that he had been missing from work, and when his counselor came looking for him he was no where to be found. Ron Collins from the warehouse, told me that he thought Rodolfo had been drinking. When I remembered the man in the Park, it did look as if he were passed out. We marked him as A.W.O.L.
That’s how we are. We come and go. The odds are stacked against us.
It could have been me out there. In the Park. So I learned from Rodolfo’s sadness. This is one way we come to understand.
Alcohol has won a small battle today.
My war continues.

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