Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Writing Class

Richard Joyce
1955 - 2068
Son, Brother, Uncle, Friend
Essayist, Screenwriter, Haiku Poet, Writer of Political,
Scientific, and Social Satire. Author of "Joyce's Take"
for 59 Years, the Screenplay "The Day the Earth Stood
Still," Three Memoirs: "Salvation Diary," "Skid Row
Diary," and the "Help, I'm Dying Diary." Also the Skid
Row Housing Trust's Thanksgiving and Holiday Plays.
Had The Unique Ability To Bend Both Thumbs Backward
At Ninety Degree Angles.
Last Words: "See Ya Later!"
May He Rest In Peace

The obituary above was written in response to Paul's warm up exercise at the Writing Class conducted at the Abby Hotel. This was the first time I had attended this class, although Paul had mentioned it to me before, but did not press the issue, and I had forgotten all about it.
The lovely case manager, Rachel, had reminded me of it at the Carver opening, and I expressed a desire to attend.
Which I did. After our Drama Free Support Group yesterday, where I discovered my lovely case manager was a fugitive from the law, and currently on the lam, for a failure to appear on a "Fix-It-Ticket," she had received when some truck backed into her rear parking light and broke it. She got the light fixed before the ticket's deadline, had all of the appropriate papers signed off, and then mailed it in to the court after being told by the police officer who issued the ticket that that was all that would be required.
This being Los Angeles though, she promptly received a notice from a collection agency stating she owed $750 for failing to appear in court to resolve this matter.
Now I don't want you to think we spent our Support Group time discussing this issue, although it would have been fine with me. We did not. We discussed much weightier issues, such as what we thought our individual purposes were in life. It didn't take very long to resolve this last issue though, because the only ones in attendance besides myself, Erin and Paul, were Jose and Hardy. I can't report what was the purposes of life were for the others due to confidentiality concerns, besides most of them didn't know. I can report on what the purpose of my life is, however, which is simply to experience it.
Now after experiencing it I can choose to do other things, like experience it to the fullest, or try to figure out everything, or spend it helping others, but that's an entirely different matter. As for the biological purpose of life, which as far as I know, I've been a complete failure, it is to reproduce. My sister's done it, most of my friends, but I've been much too busy.
No, I found out about Erin's predicament when she happened to mention she was a bit stressed due to the upcoming court ordeal, and how much of her financial resources she recently had to expend by replacing the tires on her car that had been slashed, and the locksmith fee she had to pay because she had inadvertently locked herself out of her apartment (her lovely mother, Patricia had taken the spare key back to New Jersey with her, possibly as a souvenir).
After the Writing Class I spent part of the evening making the purpose of my life finding out how Erin could legally get out of paying the freaking city $750. I came up with a few recommendations, which I Emailed to her. I hope I was of assistance.
Personally, I'd go to jail before I'd pay them one copper-colored penny. Los Angeles, bless it's little heart, is legendary for it's predatory parking enforcement policies, and by extension, traffic citations in general, including these Fix-It-Tickets. The cities policies in this regard are nothing short of a scam to fill the cities coffers at the expense of those who can least afford it. Believe me, I used to handle the customer service for them. Even PBS knows this to be true, and has aired an hour long special on this issue.
One of the stories I came across was that of a man contesting this same type of ticket and a similar fine. When he showed up at court he brought a suitcase with him. The judge asked him why he had the suitcase, and he answered that he'd rather go to jail than pay such a fine for such an inconsequential offense. The judge reduced his fine to $80, because it costs the city money to jail people.
Anyway, after Support Group, Paul and I drove over to the Abby, where I was reunited with my old friend, Demitri, who used to work at the Los Americas, and who Paul replaced when she was "promoted." Demitri is a lovely black lady in her mid-twenties, full of life and good humor, but very professional as well. We were happy to see each other again as it had been at least eight months since she left.
The lovely Rachel was there as well, but did not stay for the Writing Class. Only one other resident did, Beverly, a demure lady in her thirties. Demitri attended, and Paul, myself and Beverly.
We began with the above exercise, in which Paul gave us the choice of either writing a short statement describing ten people we knew, our own obituary, or a brief essay on the side-effects of accidentally injecting oneself with Suxamethonium Chloride. Normally I'd go with the Suxamethonium Cloride, but thought the obituary might come in handy at a later date. Much later date, as you might notice I've given myself a 113 year lifespan.
I'm nothing if not an optimist.
Paul urged us to read aloud our finished products, which Beverly and I did. Then Paul and Demitri chickened out and refused to read theirs.
Cluck, cluck, cluck, little chickens.
Next, Paul produced thousands of little pieces of paper, each having a different word printed on one side. Paul instructed us to grab a bunch of these, then assemble poems from the words at hand, something like poetry scrabble.
Now the only type of poetry I've ever written are the Japanese haiku, and I was able to come up with six of them before our time ran out at five o'clock. Two examples:
Mother hesitates
Yet telling
Drift to the left box
Ice river
Upon reading these to the others I placed the emphasis on the last line, stating. "Of course the meaning of this is indisputable."
Afterwards, Demitri took me on a short tour of the Abby, which is one of SRHT's newest hotels. It stands at six stories, shaped like an average modern apartment building with an outdoor courtyard situated in the middle of the complex. Very slick and clean. They even have their own doctor on the staff. Me, I'm lucky to get a bandaid from Tianna if I happen to cut myself.
I don't know, I prefer the smaller intimacy of my hotel, rather than the vast Abby, which reminds me more of an institution than a place to live and call home. Oh yes, the Abby is situated right behind the Midnight Mission, in the heart of Skid Row, which one is instantly reminded of upon exiting the building. Instantly reminded.
Demitri likes working there though, and I'm very happy for her.
She clocked out and gave me a lift home. I told her I would see her next week, at the Writing Class.

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