Monday, October 26, 2009

Salvation Diary 12

"Salvation" Artist: Amanda Milke

February 16 Saturday Day 157
I got tired of moping and sighing, so I got up and started moving around.
My mother had called me on the evening of the fourteenth to wish me a happy Valentine's Day. That was nice of her. I had considered calling my niece in Bullhead City and wishing her and my sister a happy Valentine's Day, while asking Keri if she would be my valentine. I chickened out though. I felt a little silly asking my niece if she would be my valentine. What if she said no? I'd be shattered.
Probably start drinking.
Anyway, today turned out to be pretty normal. Good. The more normalcy I tuck away the better off I am, I guess.
I wrote for awhile, in the lobby of course, and then took a walk before I started work. Beautiful day outside. Since tomorrow is my day off, there is a 95% probability it will be overcast, or Pasadena will suffer a locust swarm. Or something.
Work was rather peaceful. I started about an hour early, basically because I had nothing better to do. I was sorry I did so later when I began to get tired.
Eddie Gillespie started early also. He kept telling people that he had to work two extra hours, but it was only one and a quarter. The reason Eddie started so early was because he was filling in for Kevin Rockoff, who was attending a big Hawaiian luau with Ed Reitz and his lovely wife (everybody's wife is lovely. I don't know why), at the Salvation Army's Western Territorial Headquarters, in Palos Verde (a very ritzy piece of real estate. Don't tell me the Salvation Army doesn't make money), along with some of the other residents. Ed had asked me if I wanted to go, but I begged off, citing my work schedule as an excuse, and that it wouldn't really be fair to Mr. Vasquez who would have to work in my place if I were to attend. I reminded Ed that Robert needed some time off before his two long work days. Ed bought it. Not that I would have minded going (I would have hated it).
All I had to do this evening was to make sure that our undefeated basketball team got a ride to the Corps, that bingo started promptly at six, that Domingo, the Pasadena 1 trailer man, locked up the trailer correctly, that the damn bar was was put up in the thrift store parking lot, that the ladies from the thrift store got a ride to the bank, that the Saturday night VCR movie began promptly at seven, that the now defeated basketball team got a ride back after the game, make sure no fires broke out, make sure everything was locked up and secured properly at the appropriate time, sell a few canteen cards, dole out some change for the telephone, and make sure everyone was in by midnight.
This was accomplished with minimal effort, believe me. I needed to save my energy for the real work at hand; finishing a library book that Vernon Smith had lent to me: "Drug Testing in the Workplace, A Guide for Employers and Employees." Now I know a lot more about how to perpetuate a false negative in a urine sample than I used to. I also copied a table citing detection duration times in urine, and one concerning cross-reactivity, over the counter prescription medicines that can call false positives. Stuff like that.
After I finished that book, I started a novel entitled "The Restaurant at the End of the
Universe." I won't go into what its about. It's too silly.
I had trouble getting to sleep, and did not drift off until after four. When I did get to sleep, I dreamt of various aspects of Christy Canyon.
February 17 Sunday Day 158
What a relaxing day.
After the monstrous inconvenience of having to get up (after only three hours of sleep) for chapel, and then actually having to go to chapel (Major and Mrs. Johnson are back from vacation), and having to wade through the Salvation Army's brand of Christian dogma (I get so tired of being told that a person who suffered with a martyr complex, and carried it out to its logical conclusion, can save me), Tom Rotsch invited me out to breakfast.
Not that he offered to pay for it, or anything. We went Dutch.
Tom is a very enterprising young fellow ( a honky, just like me), very into religion as his primary means of staying sober. An ex-painter (house, rather than picture), he now enjoys building furniture and things of that nature, over in the warehouse. He is separated (two years now from a wife and two children, but sees them occasionally), and is trying, very earnestly, to get his life together.
We had breakfast at Tiffanys. Really! Just across the street from Rose's City Diner lies a little restaurant by the name of Tiffanys. It's not a particularly good restaurant, but it's cheap. Two eggs, hashbrowns, and toast, for 99 cents.
We talked about some of our past alcohol and drug related exploits, and discussed our dreams and plans for the future.
We walked by the park on our way back. It's still there... ever present. An awful reminder of my recent past. I showed Tom the trucks I used to sleep in. He told me that he used to live under a freeway bridge. To each his own.
As we neared the residence we parted ways. I returned to the house, he continued south on Fair Oaks, toward Huntington Memorial Hospital, to visit the ex-resident manager, who was there because he was dying of cancer.
I went to my room to get my notebook, then down to the lobby to do some writing.
At two thirty I returned to my room and watched "Three Days of the Condor," with Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway on television. The film lasted until five, but at 4:03 I made a mad dash to the dinning room and gulped down some Chile Mac and Italian Sausage, then went back upstairs to finish watching the movie.
A very good episode tonight of "Star Trek, the Next Generation," concerning a missing day on the Enterprise.
I lost horribly at bingo once again. Then watched the Sunday night VCR movie, "El Diablo," with Louis Gosset Jr. I had seen part of it before while in jail. I had missed the middle of it because I went to eat jail food (Chile Mac) at lunchtime.
After the movie I watched a not quite up to par episode of "Married with Children," then read for a while before going to sleep, and continuing to explore the mysteries of Christy.
February 18 Monday Day 159
I had some SOS for breakfast today. Yummy.
Afterwards I went back upstairs, while remarking to myself (looking around at everyone preparing for a long, arduous work day), what a beautiful morning it was. My favorite kind in fact. One in which I was free to crawl right back into bed if I so desired.
Which I did desire.
And which I promptly actualized.
I turned on my television before going to sleep. I tried to catch a glimpse of Debra Norville's legs, but she wasn't showing any this morning, so I rolled around and snoozed.
At around one I decided it was probably time for me to be getting up out of bed. I went downstairs to write, which took until three thirty. I read until dinner time.
I had thought that I had the whole evening to myself to do whatever I wanted, but Kevin Rockoff let me know that I was scheduled to see a Kathy Somebody, presumably a vocational counselor.
Oh boy!
She was to be here directly after dinner, so I waited in the lobby for her, thumbing through the last pages of, "Another Chance."
She soon arrived. A very small, petite blonde, in jeans and a sweater. More youngish than middle ageish, and very pretty. I fell in love with her almost instantly.
We talked about job applications, and how to correctly fill them out. She asked me what I wanted to do. I told her that I needed to continue school. She said that was nice. She asked me what I wanted to do about a job. I told her that I wasn't really sure, that I may wind up working here after Mr. Vasquez retires. She said that was nice, what would be my second choice incase Mr. Vasquez did not retire? I told her that I didn't really know, that I might go back to work for AT&T, or that I may stay here as a beneficiary and go to school to learn all about drug and alcohol rehabilitation. She said, that was nice.
Somehow I get the feeling that nobody takes me very seriously.
If I wish not to be taken seriously all I have to do is talk to my mother.
She was a nice lady though, and trying to be helpful. She told me that if I ever needed her services to come and see her.
I felt oddly compelled to attend Ed's group counseling session at 6:30. I'm glad I did, for two reasons. First: even though I am a graduate of the program, the reason that I came to the Salvation Army, and by extension, group counseling sessions has not gone away. I'm still very much an alcoholic. Groups, although the ones provided here seem to be very superficial, can only help me. Groups are what you make of them. If I can believe something can help me I would be silly not to take advantage of it. Second: if I continue to go to Ed's group, even though it's not required of me, Jill won't think it strange that I continue to go to her group.
Why do I want to continue to go to Jill's group? The first reason I listed above basically.
The fact that Jill is the only female that I get a chance to talk to has nothing to do with it. Not one bit. Neither does the fact that I happen to be madly in love with her. Madly. That doesn't enter into it at all. My small endeavors toward self-help are very much on the up and up. Therapeutic necessities.
In group tonight we discussed change. Ed asked us what changes we found it difficult to make in recovery? The guys responded with surprising variety. It almost turned into what could be called a bitch session. When asked if I would like to participate in the discussion, I said, yeah sure. I said that it was real hard to change. But that is what recovery is all about. It was hard to change from living in the Park, to living at the Salvation Army, because I was beginning to get used to living at my bottom, and was afraid of the changes I would have to make. I put it off, resisting that attempt to change for weeks, even though I was sure that it would be a worthwhile experience and help me tremendously.
Similarly I told the group it was hard for me to even make the small changes in my routine that I needed to make just to attend this group.
Change is hard for us alcoholics and drug addict people (change is hard for everybody). Rigidity is a classic symptom of our disease. But change is what we must do. It's essential in recovery. From drinking and drugging, to learning how to live in sobriety, to learning to live with all of our crazy feelings. We don't need to learn to love change, we merely have to do it.
And maybe in time learn to accept it.
February 19 Tuesday Day 160
Up early for work. I did manage to fit some time in for writing before starting. I didn't know if I would have much time for it later.
The Major and Mrs. Johnson, Clarence and Pattie Orion, and Ed Reitz all came over for an early Advisory Board Meeting. About fifteen others also showed for the informal breakfast.
Since they were all over here, I went across the street with the morning's paperwork. I took my time about coming back, but when I did return Ed was waiting for me. He wanted to inform me that Jack Crossley had caught one of his roommates going through his night stand drawer. It turns out that it was the same guy we suspected of breaking into Jack's locker last week, and then breaking into his own to divert attention from himself.
But he kept doing it. Alcoholics and drug addicts can be clever people, but this guy wasn't one of them.
We gave him the boot. Robert told him to pack up and get out.
I wish him well. I also wish he learns how to keep his God damn hands out of other people's stuff! He'll live a lot longer.
I made a brief dorm inspection, and issued three pink warning slips for particularly unruly beds. I saw Maggie Harbottle (I don't make these last names up, folks) and Major Foote saw at 10:00. She asked me what I wanted to do, and I told her. Then she gave me a whole heck of a lot of reasons why I couldn't do what I wanted to do. Basically what she told me was that there was currently little demand for drug and alcohol counselors, and the Department of Rehabilitation could not justify putting me through school without the prospect of a firm job offer in the near future. She told me that if I were truly interested in counseling maybe another "type" might be better... as far as the Department was concerned.
I told her that I was fairly certain about what I wanted to do, and that I would most likely pursue my plans with or without the Department's help. She said she might be able to help anyway. She scheduled me for a physical, and directed me to get into contact with some acting drug and alcohol counselors, possibly connected with the V.A. (Veteran's Administration), so I could check out the job market for that kind of work. I told her that I would do this.
Next, I talked with my counselor, Richard, and told him what Maggie had told me. He offered to help me get into contact with some people he knew in the V.A. We also talked about death a little bit. Death and drugs.
By the time I finished running eight urine sample my shift had ended. After dinner, I read and wrote until Jill arrived. Adorably late, as always.
We did the same old goal routine in group tonight. I had to be reminded what my previous goals had been. I had said I would go to the dentist, which I had. I had said I would write everyday, which I do. I had said I would read two books, one by Fromm, and one by Frankl. I hadn't gotten to the Frankl book yet, and would have cited it as a new goal, but she never asked me for any new goals.
She asked everybody else. Maybe she doesn't want me in her group anymore. I have to think about this.
She did say that she wants me to continue to help Kevin Rockoff with his Forth Step. Tracy Alexander too. I told her that I would try and help them (and at the same time help myself with this difficult Step) if they wanted me to.
I think she's using me.
After group I went up to my lonely room and turned on the old T.V., and looked for any news of the war. It's still going on, you know. I haven't written very much about it because it's been pretty boring so far. We just keep pounding the shit out of occupied Kuwait and Iraq from the air. I'm genuinely surprised there's anything left to bomb.
Also, I'm not exactly sure whether the Iraqi military has inflicted any casualties to our side as of yet. Our own Air Force seems to be doing a good enough job of that.
I turned off the T.V., and read some of the Beanfield War, the Bible, and about Jesus in an historical sense, and then went to bed rather early in preparation for my big long day tomorrow.
I slept violently.
February 20 Wednesday Day 161
I got right up when Pandolfi woke me at 5:00. I even made it to the desk by 5:30. I must be sick, or going insane.
Mr. Vasquez got up early, came down to the desk and wrote up two guys, then left, not to be heard from for the rest of the day.
I managed to write a little in between dorm inspections, urine tests, and passionate requests for insulin. Oh yes, I also did my laundry. Finally.
The last three pews seem to hold some fascination for the men who sit there during chapel service. They are clearly marked as being reserved, and not for beneficiaries. The Major does not want anyone to sit there. He wants that area empty incase some V.I.P. personage shows up and needs a place to sit. But the men really like to sit there. I don't know why.
So I wrote up twelve pinks slips, one for each of the gentlemen I found sitting there this evening.
I've chased guys from there in the past. I've made numerous announcements over the P.A. I even tell individuals point blank not to sit there. They do anyway. Tonight I told Marvin Gardenshire that he would owe me a Saturday if he proceeded to sit in one of the last three pews. He told me that he already worked on Saturdays. Then I asked him what time did he get off of work on Saturdays. He said six. I asked him if instead would he enjoy working until midnight. He replied no, that he would not like that. I thought I had got my point across and walked away. When I looked back though, a short while later, he was still there! Smack dab right in the middle of the last damn pew!
So I felt entirely justified in writing those pinks slips. If I see the same guys sitting there nest week, I'll do them some physical injury.
George Plick's Transition Group was very interesting, although I must admitt I didn't understand what the hell he was talking about. Very interesting though.
I kept pretty busy for the rest of the evening, with writing pink slips and all.
Ron Collins found for me what looks like a very good book concerning Zen Buddhism, "The Three Pillars of Zen, Teaching, Practice, Enlightenment," complied and edited by Philip Kapleaw. I read the forward by Houston Smith before my shift ended.
I went to bed shortly after 12:30, and dreamed pacifist dreams.
February 21 Thursday Day 162
Today did not start out as smoothly as I would have liked. Then it got progressively worse.
Days are like that sometimes.
Victor ambushed me in the hallway as I was leaving the Sample Room. "Wasn't I sitting right in front of you in chapel yesterday?"
"Yes, you were."
"Then why didn't you just ask me to get up and move to a different seat instead of writing me up?"
"You, of all people," I explained, "should know the rules around here."
"Still, you could have just asked me to move."
"Victor, there were eleven other guys sitting in those seats. I'm not going up to everyone during the damn service, and asking them to move!"
He kept on though. "Man, I've been sitting there ever since I've got back."
"Victor, you've only been back for two weeks at most. Last week I know I announced over the P.A. system for everyone to STAY OFF THE LAST THREE ROWS OF RESERVED PEWS!"
"Man, you could have just told me."
At this point I began to get a little angry. "Victor, I don't know what your problem is. Those pink slips don't even mean anything. They're not going across the street or anything. It's just a warning... between you and me."
"You still should have just asked me."
"Yes, I could have asked you, but I choose not to. I could have wrote you a tiny, harmless, pink, warning slip, which I did choose to do. If you don't like the way I do things around here, Victor, that's just too fucking bad!" I walked off.
I shouldn't have let him get me upset. I should have merely referred him to Robert, or Ed Reitz.
When I came down to the lobby after having smoked a cigarette and calming down a tad, I saw Victor outside, angrily denouncing me to Ed Reitz, who had just drove up.
Later, as I handed him the morning paperwork, I mentioned it to Ed. "I hear Victor's a little upset with me."
He just shrugged.
We then started talking about my future and what I wanted to do with it. I got the feeling that he wasn't taking me very seriously as I spilled my guts concerning my future hopes and dreams.
Not being taken seriously, by people other than my dear sweet mother, is beginning to depress me. I wonder why I am working my ass off around here while no one takes me seriously and do not seem to appreciate my efforts.
While I was sitting in the laundry, waiting to hapless individuals trying to sneak up the back stairway during lunch time (against house rules), Curtis Carter asked me, "Why do you think Vasquez goes away on his day off now? Because he trusts you to take care of things when he's gone. He never did that when Victor was in charge."
Curtis made me feel a lot better by saying that. I also felt better after reading Frankl's A Hidden Cry for Meaning. I think Frankl cites some very valid points in this book. I'm not going to tell you what they are, but they're very valid.
On the brighter side, the hot water went off in the building, and could, and would not be fixed until tomorrow morning. Instead of listening to cries of the angry hoard, Don Erwin (the person responsible for building maintenance), wisely I think, took off and spent the night in Orange County.
I went to sleep tonight, grateful that I had once again made it through another day.
February 22 Friday Day 163
I woke up and it was lunch time, thus I got dressed and went downstairs to eat. Cheeseburgers.
Nobody volunteered to go buy me a pack of cigarettes, so I went and did it myself. Beautiful day outside. When I returned I wrote and read for awhile.
President Bush gave Saddam Hussein an ultimatum today. Either begin pulling out of Kuwait by noon tomorrow, or face a ground war invasion. No one feels it very likely Iraq will stage a retreat.
Work went very smoothly this evening, which means I got a lot of reading done. Frankl.
When he got bored, Eddie Gillespie came into my office from time to time, and told me some of his old combat stories. Quite frankly I was amazed at some of the things he has done and experienced in his life. A true American war hero, no doubt about it. Pretty soon, he tells me, with the same nonchalant attitude he uses describing getting hit by exploding shrapnel, he'll be going out again to live in the weeds (his description).
That's his choice I guess.
What a world!

No comments:

Post a Comment