Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Salvation Diary 11

"Salvation" Artist Amanda Milke

February 2 Saturday Day 143
I slept until twelve. When I did manage to get up I realized that I had wasted the whole morning, and this upset me a little. So I took a quick shower and got dressed.
Having missed lunch I was kind of hungry, so I went out intending to get a couple of tacos from Los Tacos. The small restaurant was rather crowded, and for some reason I was in a hurried and anti-social mood, so I walked by, looking for somewhere else to eat.
All I found were hamburger places, and I could get a hamburger for much cheaper at the residence. I decided to save my money and eat later.
A little frustrated, I walked back thinking I had even wasted more time, when I thought about utilizing a clothing order that Clarence Orion had given to me last week. I walked to the thrift store, but it too was very crowded, and I didn't feel like hassling the line. I said hello to Jose Saucedo (the store janitor, and a program graduate) and left.
Not wanting this to be a totally wasted trip I walked to the Mobile station and purchased a chicken and cheese burrito. It was good. Very good. I wish I had about twelve of them right now.
When I got back to the residence I was briefed by Mr. Vasquez on what was going on at the current time. Nothing much for me to worry about. He and Ray Hunt had to go somewhere, and would be doing a lot of driving on their own time, which was no concern of mine.
My shift progressed smoothly, the quietest one all week. My mom called me at a quarter to eleven, and said she would come to see me tomorrow. She had already driven in from Bullhead, and was staying with her friends, Dick and Jeanette, in Van Nuys.
Later in my room, I watched "The Outer Limits," then that silly "Dracula," show, then went to sleep. I dreamt of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby road movies.
February 3 Sunday Day 144
Major and Mrs Johnson are on vacation, and were not at chapel services this morning. Robert jumped the gun on retired Major Hall, and gave the announcements and offerings before the Major had a chance to give a prayer reading. So after Johnny George, Gilbert Salinas, Kevin Rockoff, and myself passed the collection plate and sat down, the Major finally got a chance to speak.
"it doesn't matter what order we go in as long as everything gets done... especially the collection!"
I did some reading and writing in the lobby while waiting for my mother to call. She took her sweet time about it and didn't call until 2:15. I told her to come around 4:00, at dinner time.
She arrived at 3:30, and we sat in the canteen until chow time. We talked while we sat in there. It was a nice pleasant visit, the only bad news being that my Uncle Lester's cancer was worsening.
We had some dinner, and she left before it got dark. She doesn't like to drive in the dark.
I watched a new episode of "Star Trek, the New Generation," and played bingo.
I lost horribly.
In my lonely room I drifted off while watching, "Married with Children."
February 4 Monday Day 145
I must have been very tired because I could not drag myself out of bed until twelve. It didn't seem to bother my as much today. After I thoroughly washed myself I went downstairs to write.
I had a dentist appointment at 3:30, and I had to leave by 1:30, or 2:00 to make it there on time. Because I slept so much, and because I took my time about writing, it turned out that I became rather rushed for time. I gulped down a couple of emergency donuts for two reasons. One, this gave me a quick boost of energy need for my long trip. And second, this put my teeth into the proper condition for a trip to the dentist.
While the RTD bus was barreling down the freeway, passing General Hospital, I realized that I had neglected to bring along my health care identification card and my payment papers.
This unsettled me. When dealing with large bureaucratic institutions I like to have everything in order simply so they won't have any excuse to give me any shit. I hate shit. Hate it! Without those papers I felt hopelessly helpless, naked, and at their mercy.
I was right. They gave me shit... a lot of it. They took full advantage of the situation and placed various administration procedures in my path, which delayed me for two hours.
Once I got to the dentist's chair, Dr Lin appeared, adorned in surgical garb. His eyes gleamed with malicious intent. He shot Novocaine into my gum, stuck the old suction tube into my mouth, and told me he would be back in a couple of minutes.
A half hour later, he returned. My mouth felt prunish, all of the moisture having been sucked out of it. He proceeded with the dreaded drill.
In all fairness it didn't take very long. About five minutes. Then I was on my way.
Clarence Bliss had forgotten to put my name on the late dinner list, so I purchased a double cheeseburger with an egg on top from the canteen, and chewed every bite very carefully on the right side of my mouth. I chased the whole thing down with a cool root beer.
I watched the movie, "Midnight Run," with Robert De Niro. Very good. I then finished a book entitled, "The Artifact," then went peacefully to sleep.
February 5 Tuesday Day 146
I didn't even want to get out of my cozy bed this morning. I waited until the last possible moment, then forced myself.
After I woke up work went rather well.
My counselor, Richard came by. We had a nice little chat. He brought a couple of new books, another Frankl book, and "Another Chance," by Sharon Wegscheider. This last book concerns treatment for the families of alcoholics. I do feel it is about time for me to delve into other aspects of the disease of alcoholism.
After work I took a little nap, until it was time for group counseling with Jill. In that group we discussed last weeks goals, and surprisingly she did not ask me about my smoking, and I did not offer any information about my recent relapse (I had relapsed recently). For next week, I told her that I would be lucky just to make it through my long work days. I told her that I would continue to do my usual stuff as well. Write, and read the two new books that Richard had brought for me. Things like that.
After group I sat in the canteen area and talked to Dennis Smith, Kevin Rockoff, and Jeff Pursell, who had just come back into the program to give it another try. I was hoping that either Jill or Stacy (who was here tonight), would come over and sit nearby, but typically neither did.
After a while I went up to my lonely room, and made it lonelier by isolating in there, and watching an Al Pacino movie, "Sea of Love." It made me think about getting older for some reason.
February 6 Wednesday Day 147
After Pandolfi woke me up I laid on my side wondering if I would wake up again before 5:30. 5:30 was the time I knew I should get up in order to shower and dress without being late for work.
Not that really matters if I'm late. I don't punch in on a time clock, or anything. I wouldn't get docked in pay. I wish I would. That would imply that I did in fact, get paid.
Since I'm a supervisor nobody would say anything if I would happen to be a little late, because it really was quite comfortable in bed, and I didn't really want to get up. Nobody would really be mad at me, because they all knew that once I did arrive for work I would have to work all the way until 11:00PM. I could be a little late. There wasn't so much to do so early in the morning.
So I closed my eyes and relaxed, and didn't wake up until the pounding on my door began at 10:30.
Just kidding.
I woke again just before 5:30, and got out of bed, and did everything I had to do to be at work on time. I guess I feel it's necessary to try and do things like that. Be on time. An embarrassing work ethic, but I think it's important, especially for recovering people. So I try to be at work on time everyday. I try to do the right things. Besides, if I do the right things no one has a reason to bitch at me.
And I can't stand people bitching at me, or any kind of criticism.
I may try and act mature, and all that, and I'll say that I appreciate constructive criticism, but I don't usually. It implies that I'm not perfect. That I'm not on top of things.
The funny thing is that I know that I'm not perfect. Far from it.
In any case, I spent most of the day wondering how come the powdered creamer in my coffee was not dissolving, and why it was so lumpy.
I also ran some urine tests all by myself for the first time. I ran six samples for opiates, marijuana, and cocaine usage, but I didn't get to bust anybody,
They all had been good boys.
February 7 Thursday Day 148
Robert had been out all night. He returned at a quarter after nine, just as I was drifting off to sleep up in the Sample Room, in an aborted attempt at a mid-morning nap.
Clarence Bliss called me up there to let me know that Robert had returned, just as there was a knock on the door.
"You alright, Joyce?"
"Yes sir, come on in."
We discussed the urine machine for a while. I told him about the six samples I had run last night, and that the machine had let me know that it required a pipette and temperature check. He showed me how to perform those procedures, and then I finished off the last of the samples. One guy's cannabinoid level was half a degree higher than the last time we had checked. Hummm! We will test him again in about a week and see what's what.
After lunch I returned to the sample room and resumed my napping activities. After an hour I got up and did my laundry. Exciting stuff.
The boys were being naughty during the A.A. panel meeting this evening. I had to sit just outside and redirect those attempting to escape through the back door. I was also told that certain individuals were being rude to our A.A. guests.
Nobody wanted to tell me who those fellows were, so there wasn't much that I could do about it. I dislike rude people intensely. You might say that I'm prejudiced against rude and obnoxious people, I freely admit it.
Robert returned from yet another outing at ten, and disappeared into his room.
After work I read a chapter from, "Beanfield," then made a right turn into dreamland.
February 8 Friday Day 149
I slept in a little. I got up for lunch, then took a nap after writing for a while down in the lobby.
I woke up again just in time for work. Mr. Vasquez was here, and accounting was late with the gratuity, so what I faced upon entering the lobby was tantamount to a scene from "The Ox Bow Incident." Robert showed at 4:00, and saved the day.
I don't know what it is. I felt a little off today. I've felt a little off for a while. You've probably noticed. Jill mentioned it in her notes. "A little distant this evening," she wrote. Maybe that's true. I know I've been isolating more lately, spending more time in my room. But I usually just sleep in there, so maybe I've just been more tired. Maybe I have AIDs, and I'm slowly wasting away. Who knows? I have to check on that soon. I haven't forgotten about it. I've been putting it off. Repressing it.
Maybe it's because I'm approaching the 164th day point in my sobriety. That's the longest time I can remember of not drinking. For some reason that day seems to hold some importance for me. It keeps popping up in my head. During those 164 days, a year or so ago, I had been smoking marijuana, so it was not by any means a period of time free from the influence of mind altering chemicals. Right now has. 148 days has. And I really don't even have that, if you take into account the effect caffeine and nicotine has on me (but I'm not thinking about that right now (denial)). I really shouldn't feel anything special about the day 164 point, or pressure about making it.
But I do a little. I will feel better when it has passed... I think.
I have been told that this is a dangerous place in early sobriety, around the six month point. I guess whoever told me that was right. After all, I did not make it to day 165.
Anyway, I snapped at some people who simply wanted the volume on the TV in the large TV room turned up. They always want it turned up, and we always tell them the same thing; that if they shut up and stop talking so much they would be able to hear the TV. But for some reason they got on my nerves tonight, and I snapped at them. I know what you're thinking... hard to believe, loveable guy that I am, but true. Immediately afterwards I felt stupid, and was sorry that it happened. I also started to think about what was happening to me, and why I did that.
I was in a foul mood. Every little thing seemed to be irritating me. I couldn't wait for my shift to end.
So what I did was to escape into a book. I began to read "The Dark Tower," by Stephen King, and was half through it by the time I got off work.
At which time I went to my room and read some more.
February 9 Saturday Day 150
I started off the day in the same funk I had been in lately. I was rudely woken by Rockoff knocking on my door, letting me know that Mr. Vasquez required the cash and left over gratuities from the day before. I gave them to Kevin, then went back to bed.
When I eventually got up I wrote for a while in the lobby. That made me feel a little better. I had lunch, then went for a walk.
I passed a lady who was leaning out of the doorway to the Jaguar repair garage a couple of doors from the residence. We looked at each other briefly, and said, "Hi." I continued on, but all of the sudden I felt really good. A short exchange with someone who was in no way involved with the Salvation Army, alcoholism, drug addiction, or recovery, and I felt wonderful. This leads me to believe that I need to get out more.
My good mood continued throughout the evening. I was fairly busy with this and that until 7:30, or so, then I read a chapter in the "Another Chance," book, a very interesting chapter concerning the alcoholic family. Then I finished the King book, "The Dark Tower, The Gunslinger." King wrote a somewhat revealing afterword to his novel. I could picture his house in Maine, his housekeeper roaming around somewhere, the one who thinks he looks ill all of the time. Reading made me feel that I was in that house, discussing writing with this most prolific of writers.
And also very interesting, King also happened to mention the author Clifford D. Simak. Not that it was particularly interesting in itself that he had mentioned him, but it was interesting that right after I completed reading the book, Clarence Bliss walked into my office and plopped down with a book of Simak's, "The Visitors." Clarence asked me if I had ever read it.
Coincidence, or omen?
I had fallen in love with, "The Big Front Yard," a short story of Simak's, years ago, and "The Visitors," is the only other thing of his I have ever read. I didn't like the story all that much, however I did like the cover.
Not wanting to strain my eyeballs anymore by reading, I went upstairs and gave the King book to Clay Arnold, who had mentioned that he would like to read it, who was lying on his bed reading while listening to music on his headphones. After telling him that I would like the book back after he was finished reading it, I accidentally tossed it onto his defenseless crotch.
After the screaming ended, I returned downstairs and talked to Gillespie for the rest of my shift. We discussed Napoleon, horse racing, and aging.
At midnight two things happened. One: my shift ended, Pandolfi was here to relieve me, Eddie and everybody were tucked in safe and sound, so I went upstairs. Two: I had now completed five months of sober living, as far as the number of days sober at least. 30 times 5 = 150.
February 10 Sunday Day 151
My radio alarm, that I have just figured out how to work, went off at 7:30. I ignored it, and since it was on the other side of the room, near the door, I could not reach it to turn it off. And I certainly did not feel like getting up out of bed to do it.
Twenty minutes later I heard Mr. Vasquez on the other side of my door, "Joyce!"
I jumped out of bed, grabbed yesterday's cash and left over gratuities from my nightstand, opened my door and gave them to him.
"I didn't give you back the trailer key, did I?" he asked.
"That fucking Domingo," he said, "he must have taken the key home with him."
"Didn't you put it on the Pasadena one key ring, and put it in the can?"
"Yeah," he replied. "But I had to get it again, remember? Domingo told me that he had left his coat in the tailor after I had showed him how to lock it, so I gave him the key, then I went to take down the bar. By the time I got back Domingo was gone. Now I can't open Pasadena one. That fucking Domingo," walking away, "as useless as tits on a ..."
Since I was now up, and was expected in chapel in a half hour, I stayed up.
After chapel I took another walk, but saw no more pretty ladies to say hello to. I felt very good anyway.
When I went down to eat lunch (corned beef), I noticed that someone had placed an empty pint bottle of peppermint schnapps on the floor of the elevator. It was hard not to notice, as it seemed oddly out of place. I picked it up and took it to the office.
Robert said, "Someone's playing games."
While I was eating, and Joe Brown the second chef, called the boys to come to chow over the P.A., Robert stood at the entrance to the dining room and breat-a-lized everyone who came to eat.
He didn't find any drinkers though.
He did notice, however, the aroma of alcohol wafting from Ray Hunt, as he asked Ray to pick up the men who had attended services at the Pasadena Tabernacle.
And he kicked him out.
I wish Ray well.
This leaves Mr. Vasquez in the precarious position of being the only driver around here.
Very scary thought.
I went up to my lonely room and watched the last hour of the film, "Firestarter," another King vehicle, a decent adaptation that I'd seen before. Then I went to the lobby to write.
I kept going to different areas of the residence and doing different things for the rest of the evening. I relieved Clarence Bliss at four for chow, and read some more of the "Another
Chance," book. After dinner, I watched "Star Trek, the Next Generation," in my room, a new episode in which Picard makes a deal with the devil. Then I went to the canteen and lost horribly at bingo. I watched the Sunday night VCR movie in the small TV room, "National Lampoon's Vacation," with Chevy Chase and Beverly De Angelo. I had also seen this one before, but it was a funny movie, and I wanted to see the part about tying the dog to the bumper again, and Ms De Angelo's breasts. Certainly time well spent. I then went upstairs and watched, "Married with Children." For some reason Katey Sagal was not in this episode, and her absence was conspicuous. Then I returned to the canteen, ate a chocolate eclair, went to the bathroom, masturbated furiously, the went to bed and eventually to sleep after watching one and a half episodes of The New Twilight Zone.
February 11 Monday Day 152
I had intended to go back to court this morning, but I did not wake up fully enough to impress upon myself the benefits of doing so, as opposed to staying in my nice warm bed and going back to sleep.
I got up at twelve, showered and dressed, and then went to the canteen area to write.
After writing I read in the lobby from "Another Chance," until 4:00 o'clock, when I went to the thrift store where I picked up 4 pairs of pants, 4 shirts, 2 jackets, 2 ties, and a belt (brown).
I brought all of this stuff to my room where I clipped off all of the price tags with my handy nail clippers that have the word "Peace" engraved on the handle.
Then I went to Bible Study. Edmund Reitz explained Jonah to us. He explained that contrary to popular belief Jonah was not swallowed by a whale, but in fact, "A great fish." Three days and three nights he was in there. Imagine the smell! Then he got regurgitated. What a blow to the ego!
A whale of course is a mammal. Just like man is. It is also one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet. I've always thought that a whale was too smart to swallow one of us.
Since I have now completed five months of the program, and at the time I entered the program was only five months long (it is now six months), I am effectively finished with the ARCs basic program this week. So this should be my last Bible Study class, Mandatory one that is. I believe that I tend to learn more about the Bible by actually reading it.
Which I do on occasion.
After class I grabbed my tape recorder and note pad from my room, found Jerry Schimmele, and took him down to the atrium and asked him about his life. When I finished I went back to my room and listened to the tape, intending to transcribe it and enter the results here. The background noise from the buildings air conditioning made it impossible to hear anything that may have been recorded. I shall have to try again later.
I had planned to walk to the Casa A.A. meeting with Rockoff and Brian Montique, at 7:30, but they had left without me. After leaving a particularly explicit note in Brian's key box, I went to the canteen and ate a cheeseburger with an egg on top.
Then I headed back to my room and read from the Bible, the Beanfield War, Another Chance, and half a chapter from the book, Jesus, An Historical Review of the Gospels, by Dr. Michael Grant.
Then to sleep I did go.
February 12 Tuesday Day 153
Victor's back. I guess he started drinking or drugging again, and it got out of hand (as it always will for an alcoholic and drug addict). and he checked himself back in. I don't know that whole story yet, because I haven't talked to him. I imagine it isn't much different from most of the recurring themes of relapse I hear of around here. Victor seemed a little depressed, which is natural for anybody when they first get here, especially when you're coming back the second time around. I did go up and shake his hand, and told him I thought it took a lot of guts to come back, and I thought he was doing the right thing in doing so, if he thought that he needed it.
"Now I'm under you, Joyce," he said.
Just kidding. I told him not to worry about it and left him alone. I'll talk to him later.
My friend Carlos is doing well. He has blended right in, and seems to have taken to the program, and is no longer depressed as he once was. I don't pal around with him very much, but I see him everyday.
While having breakfast with Mr. Vasquez, I noticed that Rico had poured himself two nice big glasses of orange juice. Working in the kitchen, he has access to it. This normally would not have bothered me, or have caught my attention, except for the fact that no one else had any orange juice, only Rico. He was sitting there, happy as could be, smacking his lips every time he took a sip.
I did not say anything at the time. The problem was this, to come out and tell Rico directly that he should not be drinking orange juice in front of those who could not have any would do no good. He would agree on the surface and probably stop doing it for a while, but I'm afraid the lesson would soon be lost. What I needed was an holistic approach. Something that would make a lasting impression on the young man.
Right after Joe Brown made his, "Good morning gentlemen. Time to eat breakfast," announcement, I made one of my own.
"For those of you who would like some nice orange juice to go along with your breakfast, just ask Rico Montgomery. He seems to know where it all is, and I'm sure he will be happy to get you some."
The thirsty crowd descended upon the hapless lad like a pack of mad wolves.
Another example of the use of the P.A. system as a therapeutic tool in treatment strategy.
I wrote during the morning shift. Talked to my counselor, Richard, for a while. Told him how well I was doing. Lies.
It was a pretty easy going shift. All hell didn't break loose until Robert came on at 2:30.
Arthur Martinez came back today. Good.
When I did get off work I screwed around for the rest of the evening, not doing much in particular. I was required to attend Jill's group anymore, but I think I will continue to go.
Although I have been sober for over five months now, I still have a few little problems that continue to trouble me. Same old problems. Inability to stop smoking, can't keep from cramming food into my face, whether or not I have an incurable, fatal illness other than alcoholism.
Granted, I should not let these trifles overshadow the good work I've accomplished, but they do tend to concern me. And bother me. And like the true alcoholic that I am, I let them to do so.
There is another reason that I still wish to attend Jill's group. I'm madly in love with her.
But you already knew that.
She called in sick tonight, so I found myself with nothing in particular to do.
Stacy was here though. Cute little Stacy. She has changed to Tuesday nights permanently now. She ignored me completely.
I read a little of the "Jesus" book, and "Another Chance," then watched a horribly ridicules, made for TV, Sci Fi movie, "Not of this Earth," starring Lisa Hartman and A. Martinez.
"If the creature reaches the power grid, well... well..., we just can't let that happen!"
Why not?
They never told us what would happen if the creature reached the damn power grid!
After the movie, I walked around the residence making sure that everything was as it should be, then retired for the evening.
February 13 Wednesday Day 154
There are two Majors who work here you know. Major Johnson is the administrator. He and his lovely wife are still on vacation, up in Tacoma, Washington. The other is Major Loren Foote, retired. He comes around on Mondays and Tuesdays, and works with Maggie Harbottle from the California Department of Rehabilitation, who helps those who have completed the program reenter society. Or try to.
It was now my time to talk with him. We had said hello to each other for months, but that's as far as it went. Today he asked me what I wanted to do, now that I had effectively completed the Salvation Army's rehabilitation program. I told him that I would like to go to school, specifically for drug and alcohol counseling, generally for psychology and English. I told him that I would also like to continue working here at the residence, because it gave me the opportunity to work with alcoholics and drug addicts first hand. That there was a slight possibility that I would be chosen to take over for Mr. Vasquez when he retires later this year. I told him that for the time being I liked the idea of continuing to live in a sober environment, and that returning to work for AT&T, in their Employee Assistance Program, might be a goal.
I also told him, "To hell with all that if I win the lottery! It's straight to Tahiti for me, boy! See ya later!"
He said Vocational Rehab might be able to help me, as far as school was concerned, that is. He said he had no influence over the lottery. He said he and Maggie might be able to help subsidize the cost of school books, bus fare, etc.
I told him, yes, that might be very helpful. He gave me an application, and another form to fill out. That form asked me to provide a work history. I hate forms like that. They remind me of job applications. I have to remember the dates that I started jobs, the dates that I left jobs, my supervisors name, how much I made...
Yeah, right! I don't remember any of that crap.
But the form demanded this information. I was very unlikely that I would get a job without filling out forms like this one. A prudent person would most likely keep a record of this kind of information for reference at a later date, or even have a resume. An alcoholic though? Bloody unlikely. So the form forced me to lie.
I filled it out to the best of my ability. Major Foote took my application, and told me he would talk to me again next week when Maggie was there (she was absent today), and that was that.
I did a dorm inspection, picked the best one, the best bed, the cleanest area. This was pretty hard as they all looked lousy.
I went to the sample room after lunch. I passed Mr. Vasquez on the way. He was on his way out. Seemed like he was in a hurry.
I was reading about the various diagnostic features of the urine analyzer, when I fell asleep. I woke again at 2:30 and returned downstairs. No one had missed me.
After Wednesday chapel, I had a new group to go to. Transition Group, with George Plick. George is a likeable, very astute, black gentleman, somewhere in his forties. There were five of us in the group, not including George. I was the only honky white dude. We talked about relationships, choices and responsibilities. He gave us some examples of our relationships with things, and ourselves, the choices we make concerning those relationships, and our responsibilities for them. He asked us to think about all of the stuff we had discussed for a week. We said we would.
There is a thief among us. Jack Crossley told me that someone had broken into his locker and stolen a carton of cigarettes and some money. I told Jack that I would discuss this with Ed Reitz. Fat lot we can do about it though!
By eleven or so, Mr. Vasquez had not returned. That's okay. He's allowed to be AWOL. Tomorrow is his day off. It was unusual for him not to call and tell us that he was not coming in. He didn't sign out or anything.
I went to bed at 12:30, and dreamt of African landscapes.
February 14 Thursday Day 155
Today is St. Valentine's Day! A celebration of lover's throughout the English speaking world. Originally the Roman feast of Lupercalia. It was Christianized in memory of the martyrdom of St. Valentine in 270 A.D., who in medieval times came to be associated with the union of lovers under conditions of duress.
I don't have no valentine, under duress or otherwise.
I sat around and moped all day.
February 15 Friday Day 156
I continued moping, and started sighing listlessly.

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