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:
Bubblegum
Mother hesitates
Yet telling
and
Memory
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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Soapbox


Flying Soapbox


More Flying Soapboxes


Kimberly Caldwell


The Ladies Favorite, Jose

I am very pleased to announce that reports came in over the weekend that both Rachel, and Ashley Olsen were released from the clowns in exchange for an unspecified amount of clown parasols, shoes, suspenders, dribble glasses, squirt cameras, giant combs, squeeze horns, whoopie cushions, jumbo neon bow ties, and fart boxes. They have been returned safely to their respective families.
For the life of me I don't see why we hire these bastards in the first place. Personally, I've had it with clowns.
Happy birthday wishes go out to Janeane Garofalo, Miro Sorvino, and Naomi Watts yesterday, and Jeanna Fine, and our very own Stephanie Miller today!
Next, as you may recall, dear readers, a week ago last Saturday I made the unfortunate mistake (I know you're shocked, but I have made one once before) of arriving at the Paseo Colorado Mall in downtown Pasadena a week early for an outdoor screening of Steven Spielberg's 1977 classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Well I didn't go last Saturday when they were actually showing the movie for the following reason: I've recently acquired a DVD of the film and watched it in it's entirety last Friday evening, I plan to watch it again for Movie Day this coming Friday, and quite frankly I'm sick of Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the moment, and sincerely hope several years pass before I watch it again (after this Friday). I watched it last Friday to make sure I had a good copy, and will watch it again this Friday simply because my lovely case manager, Erin, has had the audacity of never seeing it, and I always enjoy watching loved movies with others who have never seen them.
Christ, I remember when I first watched this film shortly before I joined the navy. It helped me a great deal a bit later when spending a few days in the brig in Long Beach when they wouldn't give me any books to read. All I could do all day was repeat the basic story line through my head all day long (night too). But thats another story.
Last Saturday though, Jose and I did do something interesting. We attended the Red Bull (the tasty energy drink (I've never had one)) Soapbox Race, held right here in downtown Los Angeles, at the intersection of Fifth and Grand, right near the Central Library and my bank. That area is also known as Bunker Hill, where all the bunkers are, and which has a steep incline on Fifth from Olive St up to Grand, and an even steeper incline from Fifth and Grand, on Grand up to Fourth St. As chance would have it, the organizers of the event took advantage of the natural street topography, and set the race course exactly along the lines just mentioned, only in reverse. Gravity being rather intractable, the event planners, quite rightly in my opinion, planed to have the 40 soapbox contestants begin their short, crazed journey from the highest point at Fourth and Grand, speeding down to Fifth St., where a large platform was erected to make a radical left banking turn onto Fifth, and finally down to Olive and the finish line. Bales of straw were placed on each side of the projected racetrack, marking the boarders, and two ramps were located along the course, acting as a jumping obstacle. The time it takes to finish this short tract would probably be about sixty seconds... if you finished. Of the six races Jose and I viewed, two thirds of the racers did not complete the course, either crashing into the straw bales, losing a wheel, or toppling over while turning. Several of the small, human powered vehicles up-ended entirely, briefly trapping the drivers underneath the cars. No serious injuries were reported however.
Jose and I arrived about an hour before the race was to begin. There were a lot of people already there, lining the race course, and generally making a nuisance of themselves... or at least for me and Jose. I thought at least several thousand were in attendance, only to learn the following day the crowd was estimated at 111,000. Plus me and Jose. This puzzled Jose.
"That puzzles me," Jose said to me on Sunday. "How do they come up with that number? Is someone there counting everyone?"
I told him I didn't know for sure, but that the police probably had some experience in estimating the size of large gatherings. I asked him if he wanted to visit the police station and ask them.
"Do you think they'd tell us?"
"No."
Jose and I slowly made our way through the crowd. He wanted to go up to the staging area near Forth St. to take pictures of the soapbox cars. It took a while to get there, and by the time he was finished taking photos of half the cars I told him we should go find a place to watch the races.
As it happens, we found a place right at the starting gate that wasn't too crowded yet. A large monitor stood nearby which would allow us to see the remainder of the course when the races began. The local affiliate of Fox was here covering the event, with the saucy co-host of Good Day L.A., Jillian Barberie Reynolds, and some other guy announcing the race over very loud speakers. The comedian, Paul Rodriguez was up on the stage near us, telling jokes, sometimes, quite often it seemed clear he was having difficulty thinking up things to talk about. When the race began he eased into his duties of introducing each team, and seemed more at ease.
Former C.H.I.P.S. star, Erik Estrada, and American Idle runner up, Kimberly Caldwell (lovely woman) were two of the three judges. I don't know who the third was. Ms Caldwell also graced the crowd with her rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, doing an excellent job singing that very difficult song.
Before everything began, before Kimberly sang, and the first soapbox took off, two morons jumped out of a hovering helicopter, 5,000 feet up directly overhead, who seemed to be on fire. At least smoke was trailing close behind them. I'm not kidding! There's a picture of them above!
Fortunately they remembered to wear their parachutes, and safely landed down near Olive St. I think.
Soon the race started. Jose and I witnessed the first six races, drivers 2, 3, 4, and 5 crashing before the finish, with number 6 actually judged the winner of the day.
We had to leave when Jose began to melt in the hot sun (it was hot and sunny that day), and we waded back through the crowd, back to our respective boxes.
Although this is not an annual event, I will be on the lookout for the next time Red Bull produces this contest, so I can get to work on the Skid Row Housing Trust Razer Striped Aero Speed Bomber.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Carver/SRHT Celebration 2



Mingle, mingle, mingle. I'll tell you the truth, dear readers, I'm not a great mingler. Not with total strangers.
And I knew practically no one in this gathering, affluent crowd. I did notice one thing, it appeared that I was over dressed. 60% of the men attending were not wearing a sports jacket or tie.
Rachel left me to see what Nemeniah was up to. Tianna was up on third floor mingling. I saw her doing it from down below.
I just kept walking around trying not to bump into anyone as the building become crowded. A lady named Shannon, affiliated with SRHT, came up to me and gave me a badge tied to a loop of twine I was to place around my neck. The badge had my name on it, with the title, "SRHT Ambassador," typed underneath. So now I can add to my extensive list of accomplishments the title of Ambassador. Ambassador Joyce. It has a certain ring to it.
At about a quarter to eight, Mike Alvidrez, the Executive Director (I'd rather be an Ambassador) of SRHT, got himself a microphone and initiated the ribbon cutting ceremonies. That done, the guests were invited to come on up the staircase (the top of which is pictured above) and tour the rest of the building. I took a look at a couple of the actual apartments, which reminded me somewhat of the Captain's quarters on a submarine, small, neat, and efficient. A small kitchen was located near the entrance, a bathroom located further down the same wall along an abbreviated hallway, which finally lead into the bed/living room area, which had one window with a view of the outside world.
Back into the circular interior I stood watching the festivities from above, and wondered about that big cement staircase and the open roof, and what it will be like when it rains. I suppose it will be like every open apartment building, but noted that this building was more closed off than most apartment buildings and hoped they will not have a future problem with flooding.
I'm almost sure that this eventuality has been taken into account.
Rachel soon joined me upstairs, like she was looking out for her charges, which was very nice of her, and speaks a great deal about her character. She told me she enjoys working right in the heart of Skid Row. "Seeing all of the homeless people on the street nearby keeps me reminded of all of the problems these people and my clients face," she told me. Very admirable. She also told me of the Knitting Club she facilitates each week, which Nemeniah is an enthusiastic member, and a Writing Class she and Paul (my Paul) directs each Tuesday at four o'clock. I had no idea Paul had been moonlighting. I told her I would be very interested in attending that class (I'll leave the knitting alone for the time being), and that I would force... ask Paul to take me. She said she would be happy to have me come as the class had been declining in attendance recently. She also told me that she had bid on one of the less expensive paintings in the silent auction, hoping her husband didn't find out. I assured her he would not hear of it from me, and I hope all of you, dear readers, will keep a tight reign on this information as well.
So Rachel was married. That's okay, she's a few years too old for me anyhow.
At this point we were directed to the "Celebration Tent," outside of the building, in the rear. I had no idea there was a tent out there, let alone a Celebration Tent. Rachel and I, along with everybody else began to make our way out there.
We were joined by a colleague of Rachel's, Vivian, who I had met during our recent beach outing. The three of us entered a line within the large tent, the end of which we were rewarded with a small plate of food, Asian in character. We each took a chicken on a stick, something that looked like a miniature egg inside of a tiny metal cup (which turned out to be a small shrimp snack... I hope), and some chow mien. We took these prizes to an over large table near the center of the tent, facing the front. We sat on over large benches (I literally had to climb up on it), and enjoyed our small meal. Waiters were still walking around serving all of those tasty appetizers, which I took full advantage of (by the evening's end I was thoroughly stuffed (not in the British way)). Air conditioning was blowing on us from directly above, and where Rachel had been warm inside the Carver, she was now quite chilly. Being the gentleman that I am I offered her my nice warm jacket, which she gratefully accepted.
The proceedings began with about half of the guests still in line waiting to get fed. They would be fairly noisy throughout the ceremony, admonished with a series of "Shuusss's" from time to time. I felt a certain amount of satisfaction that at every strata of economic success within our society, from this type of affair, to our monthly Resident Meetings in the hotels, the food always seems to be of paramount importance.
We soon heard the thunder of drums. Molly had arranged a drum corps of what looked like elementary school children to march through the crowd, finally taking a place on the rostrum. As they reached a crashing crescendo, an unseen announcer called out, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Carver Apartments," at which time the lighting was changed to make the roof of the tent translucent so the Craver could now be seen in all of its architectural splendor, adorned with pulsing strobe lights. Pretty impressive.
The kids left to be replaced by the Chairman of the Board for SRHT, I don't remember his name, who quickly introduced Mike Alvidrez, again, who it turns out has been with the trust for 19 out of the last 20 years. Mike took this opportunity to thank all of the big wig sponsors and investors to the Trust, which included Bank of America, and NBC Universal, and the architect of the Carver, a Michael Maltman.
Now a slide show ensued, which could be seen on different monitors throughout the tent, in which a picture of each of the remaining 21 hotels, and two that are near completion came into view, along with the names of the firms responsible for their design. Amazingly, when a picture of my hotel, the Las Americas was shown, an unexpected round of applause erupted. Apparently my hotel has a lot of fans.
Next, the keynote speaker for the evening was introduced. A resident of the Rainbow since 2005, Tyrone, who had spent 20 years on the streets of Skid Row before getting clean at the Salvation Army's Harbor Light, before being admitted to SRHT. A brief video presentation preceded his speaking, which told of his amazing story. Tyrone, dressed in an orange suit and hat, spoke briefly on the effect SRHT had had on him, giving him his chance at sober, independent living, and the changes his life had taken since. He did an excellent job.
After Tyrone finished, Mike came back on stage for some brief closing remarks, and introduced the closing act, a musical presentation by the Watson Twins, Chandra and Leigh.
Throughout the night there had been no celebrity sightings. No Justine Timberlake or Toby McGuire. They must have been busy elsewhere with more important stuff to do. However, Rachel directed my attention to my left, where at another close by table a little blonde girl sat with her back to me, talking to her friends.
"That's one of the Olsen twins," she told me.
"Which one?" I asked.
"Ashley, I think."
I've never watched "Full House," (unlike my lovely case manager, Erin) or seen any film starring Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, but I did happen to know what they looked like, and indeed, at one point she turned my way, and it was Ashley Olsen (or Mary-Kate disguised as Ashley, how can one be sure?!).
As the Watson Twins began to play, Nemeniah snuck up on half of the Olsen Twin francaise, and asked her if she would take a picture with him. She amicably agreed, being used to these types of requests during public gatherings I suppose, and Nemeniah got his picture. Emboldened, some more young female SRHT staff members got Rachel to take their picture. Ashley agreed to this as well (speaking loads of her character too), and stood for a couple of snapshots.
Unfortunately, at this point the Watson's finished their act, and the clowns arrived. They created a huge ruckus, carrying off Ashley and Rachel, who have not been heard from since. You may have seen it mentioned in the papers.
Freaking clowns! They're always doing stuff like that.
Tianna, Tyrone, and I had to hitch a ride home. Not an easy task in this day and age.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Carver/SRHT Celebration 1



I've just finished the novel, The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, the true story of life in a world after being destroyed by giant, fire breathing grasshoppers. A film adaptation of this novel is set to premier November 25th, starring Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, the lovable and goofy Charlize Theron, and Guy Pearce as the last grasshopper.
Or so I'm told.
The giant grasshoppers are nowhere to be found in the book so it will be interesting to see how the director works them into the final film version. I can't wait.
Further cause for celebration, the film, Creation, which we talked about earlier (see, Creation), starring Jennifer Connelly and her husband, Paul Bettany, as Emma and Charles Darwin, has at last found an American distributer, Newmarket Films, with the hopes of a December release. I believe this a direct result of all of you, dear readers, signing the petition to have the film distributed in the States.
As they would say down under, Good on you!
Now a further cause to celebrate. After expressing an interest in attending the opening of the New Carver Apartments, Skid Row Housing Trust's 22nd residential hotel in the downtown area of Los Angeles, and the simultaneous 20th anniversary of the Trust itself, to my lovely residence manager, Tianna, she got me a special invite to the event with the stipulation that I may be asked to give a testimonial on how I happened to become involved with SRHT, and what's happened to me since. With tickets to the interested public costing $250 each, a chance to attend free of charge sounded good to me.
Tianna asked me to get a suit ready, which I happen to have. Or at least a sports jacket, dress jeans and shoes, dress shirt and tie. Upon examination of my planned attire, Tianna offered to press my jeans, "So you have a crease," she said. Very nice of her.
My lovely case manager, Erin, was similarly impressed with my stunning appearance.
"You look nice Rick," she said. "Your hair looks nice too." I had combed it earlier in the day.
Erin and Paul were not attending as they had neglected to respond to their invitations in time, so they both tried in vain to conceal their obvious jealousy. Feeling sorry for them I assured that I would fully report on the festivities.
"You know Justine Timberlake and Toby McGuire are supposed to be there," Erin told me.
"Really."
"That's what I heard."
"Toby McGuire?" Paul asked. "Isn't that the guy from The Lord of the Rings?"
"No, Spiderman," Erin explained.
It all took place last Thursday evening. Tianna and I were picked up by the lovely Rachel, a case manager at the Abby Hotel, located behind the Midnight Mission, at the corner of Sixth and San Pedro, where my friend Demitri now works. Rachel is a very pretty lady in her mid-twenties, with brown shoulder length hair, who reminds me of Megan Mullally of "Will and Grace," when she speaks, but nice. She drove us to the Rainbow Hotel to pick up another resident, Nemeniah, I believe his name was, then off to the Carver at the corner of 17th and Grand.
The New Carver Apartments (pictured above) are very... round, and about six stories tall. It being a new building everything inside was squeaky clean for the celebration, which was also an opportunity for the trust to raise some funds, which accounts for the price of the tickets, and the various pieces of art that were on display in the foyer, and which were subject to an silent auction. All of the artists were unknown to me except one painting donated by the actor Pierce Brosnan, of Remington Steele fame. Rachel bid on one piece by simply supplying her name and phone number, but left the proceedings without knowing if she had won.
The interior of the building is magnificent. Exiting the foyer one enters, well it would have to called a courtyard, as there is no ceiling. The view looking up is like looking through an inverted funnel, or what it might be like to gaze at the opening of a nuclear power plants cooling tower from the inside. A series of steps lead up to the second floor, where access to the rest of the building resides through stairways located on the apartments perimeter (I did not notice if there were elevators, but for those who will eventually live on the upper floors I certainly hope there are). All of the individual apartments open to this courtyard, which itself is circular, so from practically any position inside one can see any other position.
The party tonight was engineered by Molly, who as you recall was responsible for me getting published in the SRHT newsletter, and she did an excellent job. She soon made her appearance, and briefly told me that she was glad I was able to attend.
The affair was fully catered, and throughout the evening I availed myself of sparkling water, and a whole menagerie of appetizers and horsDoeuvres, such as chicken and garlic wanton, crab and shrimp cones, artichoke and goat cheese bruschetta, cauliflower crostini, French onion pissaladiere, mushroom croustades, prosciutto and gruyere pinwheels, Spanish tomato toast, lobster salad canapes, brie kisses, coconut chicken chops, lumpia, vegetarian quesadillas, and a whole bunch more fancy stuff that I never make at home. Not knowing if they were going to be serving dinner, or not, I literally kept stuffing these tasty morsels in my mouth every time a waiter walked by with some, which was quite often.
Rachel and I talked to Craig, who along with Evelyn, is Erin and Paul's boss (and Rachel's). I'd met him before on a few occasions, and he has always seemed to be an amicable and approachable individual. He must be in his early sixties, with thinning white hair and goatee. He is in charge of the support services staff for all 22 hotels.
I used this opportunity to ravish praise upon Erin and Paul, letting Craig know that they are the absolute best case mangers ever.
"They really do seem to work well together," Rachel added.
"Yes, I get that feeling too," Craig said.
"They really like the job they're doing, and put so much energy into everything they do," I told him. What a suck up I am.
"It's so good to have people like that who do display that type of energy, even to the point that sometimes we may have to tone it down. But it's much better than having to lift others up who don't have it, you understand what I mean?" Craig asked.
"Yes, I do," I answered. "You should see Erin's Chicken Dance."
"Chicken Dance? I'll have to ask her to demonstrate at our next training session."
I continued, "We're all very lucky to have them, and I absolutely believe they should get a raise as soon as possible, if not sooner."
Craig agreed with me, and Erin... Paul... if you're reading this, get to work on our next field trip, you laggers... and I could use a nice foot massage.
Rachel and I took our leave of Craig and continued mingle while munching appetizers.

To be continued.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Compassionate Conservatism



As I write this I'm watching our President chairing a United Nations Security Council meeting, the first American president to do so, the agenda being to reduce worldwide nuclear proliferation and national weapons stockpiles. You could say he's taking a hands on approach to one of our most pressing problems.
Of course the Republicans will claim, as the neo cons like John (Mustache Boy) Bolton has already done, that Obama is being weak on national security, and the country faces imminent attack for suggesting that fissionable material be closely cataloged and guarded.
The Security Council unanimously approved a U.S.-drafted resolution aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
Barack Obama is also the first sitting U.S. President to be a guest on the David Letterman show, apparently because they told him Megan Fox would be there, and his desire to see "that heart-shaped potato." Go figure. 7.218 million viewers watched our President chat, the largest audience David has received in 4 years.
There are a few good things to report in the news today. The Station Fire that has been raging north of Los Angeles for 2 days shy of an entire month, and which has destroyed about 160,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Wilderness, is expected to be fully contained by this evening. Governor Patrick of Massachusetts has appointed former Democratic Party Chairman, Paul Kirk to the vacant Senate seat of Edward Kennedy, stating issues before Congress are "too important to Massachusetts for us to be one voice short." At last a vaccine has been developed that helps prevent HIV infection in 31% of those studied during it's initial trials. And the floodwaters are beginning to recede in the southeastern section of the country, especially Georgia and Alabama, that has caused at least $250 million in damage and taken the lives of 9 people, one a 2 year old boy that was swept from the arms of his father in the raging flood waters.
Reading the news accounts of this flooding during the week I noticed that most of the fatalities occurred when people attempted to drive through flooded areas, only to have their vehicles swept away. I passed the recommendation to not drive in flooded areas along to my dear friend, Shannon, who for some reason actually lives in Alabama. She was kind enough to send me back a big, "Duh!" in reply.
Republicans serving on the Senate Finance Committee, which is currently attempting to markup it's version of the health care reform bill before full Senate debate, want to take their own sweet time about doing it. Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine stating, "If it takes two more weeks, it takes two more weeks...What is the rush?"
She obviously has not heard of the new study conducted by Harvard University which states 45,000 citizens died in 2005 due to lack of medical care, more than which died in automobile accidents. Between 2005 and now this problem can only have gotten worse. I wonder if Senator Snowe would be so complacent and willing to wait two more weeks if she were facing a serious health problem like a cancerous tumor that was spreading rapidly throughout her own body, rather than someone else's who does not have health insurance or access to medical care.
This is what I call a perfect example of "Compassionate Conservatism," the fake doctrine made most popular by Presidential candidate, George W. Bush in the 2000 election (not a little suspicious as Bush when Governor of Texas allowed 153 executions to take place, at an average of 1 every 9 days, more than any Governor in the history of that state).
What is the stated tenets of compassionate conservatism? Wikipedia tells us: "Compassionate conservatism has been defined as the belief that conservatism and compassion complement each other. A compassionate conservative might see the social problems of the United States, such as heath care or immigration, as issues that are better solved through cooperation with private companies, charities and religious institutions rather than directly through government departments."
By this definition compassionate conservatism is best achieved by privatizing compassion. As long as the government doesn't have anything to do with it everything is okay.
Another way Republicans define compassionate conservatism is expressed below by Myron Magnet, the former editor of City Journal:
"Compassionate conservatives offer a new way of thinking about the poor. They know that telling the poor that they are mere passive victims, whether of racism or of vast economic forces, is not only false but also destructive, paralyzing the poor with thoughts of their own helplessness and inadequacy. The poor need the larger society's moral support; they need to hear the message of personal responsibility and self-reliance, the optimistic assurance that if they try – as they must – they will make it. They need to know, too, that they can't blame "the system" for their own wrongdoing."
Compassionate conservatives do not wish the poor to be lulled into a false sense of despondency even if it is true that vast forces are aligned against them, and that of course, everything is their fault, but they must continue to try to be good, with the conservative assurances that they will some day, some how make it.
In other words compassionate conservatism offers absolutely nothing to the people of this nation, except assurances to the elite that they will not be bothered by the riff raff.
Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) has stated recently that he believes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "is in another world," if she thinks aggressive behavior demonstrated at townhall meetings lately may lead to violence. He has seen no indications of that, he says. Maybe that is because he has not hosted or attended any townhall meetings on the subject of health care reform during the last two months, except over the telephone.
In any case he attended one yesterday at the Richmond Times-Dispatch where he answered questions from his own constituents. A Patricia Churchill asked about a close relative who had just lost her job:
"I have a very close relative, a woman in her early forties, who did have a wonderful, high-paying job, owns her own home and is a real contributing member of society. She lost her job. Just a couple of weeks ago, she found out that she has tumors in her belly and that she needs an operation. Her doctors told her that they are growing and that she needs to get this operation quickly. She has no insurance."
Cantor's response: "First of all I guess I would ask what the situation is in terms of income eligibility and the existing programs that are out there. Because if we look at the uninsured that are out there right now, there is probably 23, 24% of the uninsured that is already eligible for an existing government program. Beyond that, I know that there are programs, there are charitable organizations, there are hospitals here who do provide charity care if there’s an instance of indigency and the individual is not eligible for existing programs that there can be some cooperative effort. No one in this country, given who we are, should be sitting without an option to be addressed."
Compassionate conservatism. Keep government out of the health care business so insurance companies can continue to leach off of the citizens of this country providing nothing in return, while making billions in the process. And if you're not poor enough to be eligible for low income programs that the Republicans were also against, then try to seek help through charities, be at the mercy of charities, if you can find one.
True this relative may be able to extend her employer based health insurance through the COBRA program (if she's still eligible), or she could mortgage her home to pay for the care that she needs, hopefully winding up cured and healthy, but with that nagging little problem of homelessness to look forward to.
Asked about Cantor's response, Churchill stated, "it was helpful in a sense, but of course nowhere near as helpful as having this health care reform bill passed so that we could know that she could definitely go and get taken care of."
Representative Cantor today called for the "scrapping," of the President's public option insurance program.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Salvation Diary 11


"Salvation" Artist Amanda Milke
http://paintsplatters.wordpress.com/



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.
Boring.
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.
Interesting.
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.
"No."
"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.
"THAT'S MR. JOYCE TO YOU, AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT!"
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.
Why?
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.
Madly.
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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Depressed



How depressing.
Jessica Simpson, lovely woman, witnessed her Malti-poo dog, Daisy, dragged off by a wild coyote. "My heart is broken because a coyote took my precious Daisy right in front of our eyes. HORROR!" she Tweeted. This occurred a little over a week ago and apparently the two were very close. "They told each other everything," a close friend stated. My greatest sympathies go out to her, as I can only imagine how it would feel to lose a loved one in such a manner.
Freaking coyotes.
For those who say she should accept the fact that Daisy is ... has passed, and move on, Jessica declares, "Still holding out hope despite the assholes that say it is a dumb thing to do. Daisy is my baby...why would I stop searching? I'm a mom."
I have much affection generally for Ms. Simpson, who along with Rebecca Romijn, among well known celebrity type females, represent to me exceptional examples of the quintessential all American girl.
Now all of my other female friends with brunette or red, or brown hair will be pissed off at me. How depressing.
The only reason I even mention this is because these two actresses are the only ones I've ever considered in thought experiments to play the epic role of April Delaney, if a movie were ever made of John Nichols, "The Magic Journey," an American classic as far as I'm concerned.
We discussed this issue at yesterday's Depression Group at the downtown V.A. (Veteran's Administration) clinic.
"Yes, it would be very depressing to see your Malti-poo eaten by a coyote," Tomika asserted, "and sad." She was filling in for the lovely Dr. Kimberly, who was on medical leave and expected back in two weeks.
"Well, she didn't actually see the dog being eaten," I corrected her. "That would have been horrible."
There were four of us vets there, all middle aged men, about an average number for this group. This was the first time I'd ever met Tomika, and the new intern, Lauren, one a slim blond sporting glasses, the other a slim black lady, both in their mid-twenties and attractive. For girls. I'll let you decide, dear readers, which one was which.
"What else do you consider a depression trigger, Rick?' Tomika asked.
"Republicans," I told her.
"Republicans?" Lauren queried, "Why is that?"
"Because they lost the election. The last two elections really, and the media is still listening to what they have to say as if it mattered."
"Don't you think they should have a voice..."
"Nope."
"I see..."
They lost. I don't mind them being heard every once in a while, but every freaking day MSNBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and any other initialed media outlet hangs on to every word of what any Republican spokesperson has to say is if it mattered. It freaking doesn't! They lost! They're the party that let George Bush screw up this country to the brink of disaster and we're supposed to take what they have to say seriously, as the media would have us. How freaking absurd!
And since the Republican politicians have lost the last two elections (2006 & 2008), evil morons like Glen (Over Actor) Beck, and Rush (The Drugster) Limbaugh are now the titular heads of the Republican movement, which doesn't say a great deal for the state of the Republican movement! But the media keeps on reporting what ever they spew as if they were still in power and they represented the view of the majority of Americans. They don't. Don't pay any attention to them and maybe they'll go away.
Fat chance of that though. Keep an eye on these traitorous and treacherous bastards, but from a distance.
Take Acorn for example. Hearing the Republicans talk about them, the innocuous community organizing group is a mixture of the Nazi Socialist Party, the Ku Klux Klan (awkward for those Republicans who actually are members of the Ku Klux Klan), Communist Baby Killers, and Buddhist War Mongers. This noise stirs up the Republican base, which seemingly pressures the spineless Democrats in Congress to do what ever the Republicans want. But why?! It's the Republican base that's getting stirred up, not the Democratic or Independent base. WTF!
"That seems to make you more angry than depressed, Ri..."
"And heath care..." We know the Republicans don't want health care reform, they never have wanted health care reform, they never will want health care reform, and they will do everything they can to stop health care reform, yet the Democrats bend over backwards, gut their own bills and provisions to pander in the name of bipartisanship, for what purpose? None that I can see. There is a reason the people elected a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, and that was so legislation could get passed WITHOUT THE FREAKING REPUBLICANS! But Nooooooooo!! They still can't seem to get anything done.
"Maybe we should discuss something besides politics," Tomika offered. "What other than politics can set off a bout of depression, and what are your strategies to prevent..."
"Polar bears depress me," I told her. "Commercials on T V with freaking Sharon Lawrence that show polar bears with their little polar bear babies running out of ice to hunt and play on because of global warming. I find that depressing."
"I see."
"The Republicans will tell you global warming doesn't even exist..."
"Now see, we're getting back to pol..."
"The census depresses me," I continued. "Did you know that as a direct result of the downturn in housing starting in two thousand and six, one in three Americans fifteen years or older, reported they've never been married? The highest in a decade."
"No, I didn't know that..."
"And Tom Delay depresses me..."
"Tom Delay, the Texas..."
"That's right, the former House Majority Leader from Texas."
"Why does he depre..."
"Do you know that in less than a week it will have been four years, FOUR YEARS MIND YOU, that he was indicted for conspiring to violate campaign finance law, and he still hasn't gone to trial! FOUR YEARS! I thought justice in Texas was swift, just like their boats. Instead what do we get? Tom Delay frigging dancing with the stars! Now that really is depressing"
"I see," Tomika continued, "Maybe we should move on..."
"And freaking leprechauns..."
On and on. Fortunately for Tomika and Lauren, lovely girls, the hour was soon up, and we all went our respective, depressed ways.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fun With Dick And Jane



First a shout out to birthday people, Maurice Barrymore (patriarch of the Barrymore family, that includes Drew), H.G. Wells, H.L. Mencken, Thomas Alexandrovich de Hartmann (Thom's dad), Chuck Jones, Jay Ward, Mario Bunge, Larry Hagman, Bill Murray, Ethan Coen, and the lovely Nancy Travis. Happy birthday, one and all. Even those of you who are dead.
I did this due to Google's logo today, depicting H.G. Wells famous tripods from "The War of the Worlds," terrorizing some poor rural community. There's burning and screaming... it's just horrible.
I have to admit something a tad embarrassing. Last Saturday evening I left my box all in a hurry to attend an outdoor screening of Steven Spielberg's iconic, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," in Pasadena, got all of the way there only to discover the event is to be next Saturday. Returned home and checked my calendar, indeed I had it for next Saturday everywhere except my brain. Oh well, now I have something to look forward too.
Last night I was working diligently when I happened to notice the 2005 film, "Fun with Dick and Jane," (a remake of a 1977 film starring George Segal and Hanoi Jane Fonda) was on my television, staring James Eugene Carrey and Tea Leoni. I thought nothing about it at the time, as there are often movies on my television, especially over the weekends. I vaguely remembered having seen it once before, on this very television, as chance would have it. This time though the plot began to intrigue me.
The movie is about a young yuppie couple, Dick and Jane, with one child and one house keeper, both working at well paying jobs and living the so-called American Dream. Nice house, nice snooty friends, nice investments in corporate stock, equity in their home, etc.
Well Dick is promised a huge promotion at the Enronish type company he has been working for for many years. He brings back the happy news to Jane, and tells her she can quit her job, which she does ( she also begins making a lot of expensive home improvements, hot tub, new lawn, etc.) Dick's new job entails appearing on national television to promote the companies soundness, right as the stock price drops like a lead zeppelin, and everyone who worked for the firm, or held investments in it, are instantly ruined (except the CEO, who seems to have made out just fine, sympathizing with those who lost their life's savings, stating he has had to make concessions too, having to sell one of his homes).
Dick and Jane are pretty much left penniless, the job market is glutted, they face imminent foreclosure of their home.
The hook to this movie is that Dick and Jane resort to crime in order to make ends meet. "We followed the rules and we got screwed," Dick observes. They commit a series of small time robberies, gaining experience and expertise, graduating to banks, and more high yield heists until they regain their previous living standard, and then some. Eventually they get revenge on the evil CEO, regaining their pensions, being able to leave their life of crime.
It didn't take long to see parallels between the circumstances related in this movie, and what is happening to a large amount of Americans currently in this economic downturn. Most don't turn to a life of crime, but some do. Families are losing their homes at an alarming rate. Banks that received bail out money from taxpayers rewarded them by foreclosing their homes and increasing the interest rates on their credit cards 60%.
Banks are looking more and more like the villains of the new millennium.
Ann Minch, of Red Bluff, Calif., a 46 year old step-mother of two decided she had enough, after Bank of America increased the interest on her credit card from 12.99% to 30% in July. She has never missed a payment, making at least the minimum monthly, keeping a balance of several thousand dollars on her account.
Now B of A received $25 billion in taxpayer bail out funds, with a government promise to cover $118 billion in case of large losses. Ann got pretty tired of being ripped off and decided to stage a one woman debtor's revolt.
"Minch announced [via a You Tube video] that she'd be dumping Bank of America, refusing to pay off her credit card debt unless she was offered a lower rate. She explained that she'd been a reliable customer even though she'd lost her job as a mental health case manager. She said bank reps refused to negotiate her interest rate when she called them to complain a few weeks ago."
"You are evil, thieving bastards, she said, "Stick that in your bail out pipe and smoke it!"
She's absolutely right... they are evil, thieving bastards. Michael Moore pretty much proves this point in his upcoming documentary, "Capitalism, A Love Story," which chronicles the financial crisis that these banks caused, the bail out footed by the average tax payer to get them out of their own mess, and everything in between.
Just recently President Obama used the one year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the only large financial institution that was allowed to fail, to warn the remaining financial powerhouses, those deemed to large to fail, that new financial regulations were coming that would ensure the excesses of the last eight years and the economic disaster they caused would not repeat themselves. You could almost hear his audience, the employees and CEO's of those institutions snickering, knowing full well that significant oversight, and new regulations would not be coming anytime soon due to the stranglehold they had on Congress from political donations (that we... tax payers, are paying for!), allowing them to continue the same type of behavior that started the whole mess to begin with, paying themselves huge bonuses (that we...tax payers, are paying for!). Why shouldn't they? They're not breaking the law because Congress isn't making any laws curbing their abuses, and they're making such a huge bundle that they'll be more than well be insulated from the effects of their own behavior at the expense of all the rest of us Americans, and the rest of the world as well.
I was talking to my lovely building manager, Tianna, the other day, and she told me she liked the short piece I wrote for the SHRT newsletter, because it detailed the plight of many working Americans who are one paycheck away from becoming homeless themselves, like Dick and Jane were about to become. We won't even go into the large predatory lending industry that takes advantage of those facing dire circumstances. "These things are really happening," she told me.
My lovely case manager, Erin, had three of the tires on her car slashed last Friday night for no apparent reason. Sweet, little, innocent Erin, with not an enemy in the world (alright, alright, maybe she's not that innocent. We've all heard the stories, but we can pretend). Although not a violent man anymore, I'd beat the Be-Jesus out of who ever did that to her if I had the chance. Of course she had to pay to have her car towed and the tires replaced. About $400 bucks in all (I don't know where she's getting her tires at. I could have gotten three for about $100 easy). I know she doesn't make all that much money because she works here. What if this happened again. Or how about if she had a sudden illness and her health insurance didn't cover it, as is one of the major causes of bankruptcy in this country. My point being that it would not take much to have her going broke and moving in next door to my box, which happens to be vacant at the moment, and I wouldn't want that because she'd probably be borrowing all of my stuff sooner or later.
But the people are getting fed up (I hope). Michael Moore related this incident to Arianna Huffington recently while snacking on lasagna. It occurred while filming, "Capitalism, A Love Story:"
"While unfurling the (crime scene) tape in front of a "too big to fail" bank, he became aware of a group of New York's finest approaching him. Moore has a long history of dealing with policemen and security guards trying to shut him down, but in this case he knew he was, however temporarily, defacing private property. And his shooting schedule didn't leave room for a detour to the local jail. So, as the lead officer came closer, Moore tried to deflect him, saying: "Just doing a little comedy here, officer. I'll be gone in a minute, and will clean up before I go."
The officer looked at him for a moment, then leaned in: "Take all the time you need." He nodded to the bank and said, "These guys wiped out a lot of our Police Pension Funds." The officer turned and slowly headed back to his squad car. Moore wanted to put the moment in his film, but realized it could cost the cop his job, and decided to leave it out. "When they've lost the police," he told Arianna, "you know they're in trouble."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Riley Ann



It's terrifying to write this. So I won't. The following are actual excerpts from various news reports:
On Oct. 29, 2007, fisherman Robert Spinn of Bayou Vista found a storage container on an uninhabited island about a mile offshore in Galveston Bay, Texas. It contained cement and a blonde toddler wrapped in three plastic bags. "I ripped the bags (in the container) open with some fishing pliers. I saw a shoe. I knew it was a person." Sheriff’s investigators named the girl “Baby Grace” and embarked on 26-day media blitz to confirm her identity.
Nellie Zeigler heard about “Baby Grace” on a talk radio program and found an artist’s sketch of her on the Internet.
The toddler's identity was a mystery for weeks until Sheryl Sawyers of Ohio, saw an artist's sketch of the girl and told authorities in Texas she thought it was her granddaughter. The call from Sheryl Sawyers led authorities to Royce Clyde Zeigler II (24) and Kimberly Dawn Trenor (19), who had invented a story that their daughter, Riley Ann Sawyers had been taken away by child welfare officials in Ohio.
Riley was born and lived in Ohio until her mother Kimberly separated from Robert Sawyers, and took Riley to Texas last summer. Kimberly met Royce Zeigler playing the online game World of Warcraft, and had an online relationship with him.
Kimberly's defense attorney portrayed Trenor as a scared 19-year-old girl who had moved to Texas from Ohio to marry a man she met while playing an online game, and after two brief encounters. She said Riley's father, her former boyfriend, had assaulted her and Zeigler was her "knight in shining armor, her Texas cowboy."
They married June 1st, 2007, and settled in Spring, Texas.
Although Zeigler's mother Nellie, and her husband didn’t approve of “ready-made marriages,” she said the family opened their home to Trenor and Riley and quickly came to love and adore the vibrant, charismatic and intelligent toddler who brightened their lives.
Nellie Zeigler recalled going to the couple’s home in June to deliver milk and snacks, saying she knocked on the door, but it took Trenor a while to answer. "Kim had a belt wrapped around her shoulder," Nellie Zeigler testified.
The following week, Nellie Zeigler picked up Riley on Saturday morning, eventually changed
her diaper and was disgusted with what she saw.
“Her little butt was bruised, greenish, yellowish, purplish, and I got mad,” Mrs. Zeigler said. “I
let her watch cartoons, anxious for Kim and Royce to come over."
Nellie Zeigler told the couple she disapproved of the belt discipline, saying both dropped their heads."Mom. This is never going to happen again," Nellie said of how her son replied. "After that, I never saw bruises on her again."
The weekends of mall shopping and bonding ended abruptly with Riley’s death July 25, 2007, and Nellie Zeigler would spend the next four months agonizing over the whereabouts of the “sunshine of our lives.”
Nellie Zeigler eventually learned Ohio officials didn’t have Riley, and she and her husband confronted Trenor, asking her why she wouldn’t tell authorities her girl was kidnapped.“My husband said, ‘Kim. You’re lying,’ and the third time he asked, she jumped up and starts to cuss us out,” Nellie Zeigler testified. “She shot the finger at us and said ‘F---you! F---you! F---you!’”
The confrontation continued upstairs, Nellie said. "What kind of mother are you?’” Nellie Zeigler said. “‘You show no emotion. You never talk about her. You never seem to care where
she's at.' I'm crying and she's smiling at me."
The two had more heated words, when Trenor said, “You’re going to pay for this,” Nellie Zeigler testified. The couple left, she said.
Royce Zeigler worked for a company contracted to create schedules for petrochemical companies, earning $54,000 annually. The fatal beating happened after Zeigler stayed home from work to make sure his wife was following his discipline plan, the defense said.
According to Trenor's attorney, Tommy Stickler Jr., Zeigler wanted Trenor to spank Riley with a belt when she failed to say things like "please" and "yes sir" or "no sir." Zeigler didn't believe Trenor was doing it, however, because the 2-year-old's behavior wasn't changing. A list was found by authorities after the arrest of the couple for the murder of Riley, the list, called "Rules for Riley," included such things as "being polite," "behaves in public," "toys stay in her room" and "listen to mom & me." There was space for a 10th item on the list but it was left blank.
During her opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Kayla Allen detailed for jurors the day that she said Riley Ann died for forgetting to say "please" and "yes, sir. "Allen said that on July 25, 2007, Trenor and Zeigler disciplined Riley by whipping her with a belt, pushing her head against a pillow and holding her head under water. She said Zeigler grabbed Riley and tossed her across the room, fracturing her skull. An autopsy concluded the skull fractures caused her death. Riley died of three skull fractures she received when Zeigler, threw the child across the room, authorities said.
Riley Ann Sawyers tried to stop her mother and stepfather from beating her to death by reaching out to her mother and saying, "I love you," assistant district attorney Kayla Allen told jurors earlier in the day during her opening statement. The toddler's pleas didn't stop her mother from brutalizing her, the prosecutor said. "To the very end, Riley said, 'I love you' to her mom. She's reaching out," Allen said. "That's her lifeline, to her mother. What does Kim do after hearing her say I love you? She starts beating her."
"I said we have to get her to a hospital. (Zeigler) said, 'No we can't. We'll go to jail,' " Trenor said in the videotape, crying. "There came a point where she stopped breathing. He started doing CPR on the floor. He took her ... and handed her over to me. I could just feel her going cold."
At the defense table, Trenor's eyes teared up as she watched the videotape on a large screen.
Several jurors wiped away tears.
Galveston County Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Pustilnik Testified that any one of three skull fractures he found during his autopsy could have killed Riley. He said that it would have been apparent within seconds of one of the fractures that Riley was in need of medical help. Symptoms included a change in body temperature, headache and the inability to stand up, he said, all symptoms described by Trenor in her statement to investigators. She said that Zeigler accused Riley of faking when she was unable to stand.
After Riley was killed, beaten so badly that Trenor said Zeigler complained of it making his shoulder sore, the couple bought a plastic container, partially filled it with cement, stuffed her beaten body inside and stored it in a shed for two months. They tried to bury it in a wooded area north of their home, but when that failed, they dumped it in Galveston Bay in September.
The seven-woman, five man jury took less than two hours to convict Kimberly Trenor of capital murder in the slaying of her 2-year-old daughter. Trenor will receive an automatic life sentence without parole because prosecutors did not seek the death penalty due to technical reasons peculiar to Texas law. Jury foreman Randal Rothschild said it didn't take the panel long to reach a verdict because we had all the evidence. Apparently the jury felt it was pretty cut and dried. As his eyes teared up, Rothschild added, "It was a very emotional trial."
Zeigler will be tried for capital murder in a separate trial. No date has been set yet.
The island where the toddler's body was found was officially renamed "Riley's Island." A wooden cross bearing a plaque with her name was placed there as a memorial, but Hurricane Ike washed it away on Sept. 13.
A Mr. Miller, who made that cross, said he is making a new one and hopes that he and Riley's family can place it on the island later.
"It's sad the cross is gone. But as much damage as the hurricane did, I was afraid the whole island would be wiped away," he said. "God did not want that to happen. The cross will be put there again in her honor."
In Mentor, Ohio, pink balloons were released into the wintry sky after the funeral for Riley. Some of the balloons had cards attached with her picture and an address where the finder could return it to her family in northeast Ohio. The balloon release coincided with similar releases around the world in memory of the toddler, who had been nicknamed Baby Grace.
"People all over the world adored this child. She was loved and cherished by everyone," Riley's great-uncle, Mike Nebelski, said in a eulogy.
"Let's not forget Riley. Let's not forget all the other kids out there who are missing," he said.
After the service and balloon release, the funeral procession left for Mentor Cemetery for burial of the 36-inch coffin. Inside was an urn with the girl's ashes and various other items, including a dress and a stuffed animal toy.
Riley Ann Sawyers was with us for 866 days. The site below is an online memorial.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Morticia



I've just returned from a little walk with Jose to a little whole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant on Seventh Street with Jose. His idea. The food was very good, but the air conditioning horrible. Cheese enchiladas for us both, and Coca Cola. Yummy!
Walking back I told him, "Now I feel like taking a nap and won't be able to get any work done. Thanks a lot, Jose."
"Your welcome."
And I plan on attending a outdoor screening of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," tonight in Pasadena, at the mall, sponsored by the Planetary Society.
It's been another interesting week, gaining and losing a friend, so I come out even I guess.
My lovely case manager has been so busy with paperwork involving an upcoming audit that she and Paul had virtually locked themselves up in their office for the last week and a half, being no fun at all. Except for yoga of course. Which was grueling this week. I must have had a lot of toxins built up because Beth had me sweating like a pig as she tortured... enhanced interog... put us through our paces. Erin of course just breezes right through. She's sporting a new hair style this week, which everyone except me complimented her on at this week's Cooking Club. All I can say is that it's very straight. And kind of hangs down... straightly. She reminds me a little of Morticia Addams... the Carolyn Jones Morticia, not the Angelica Huston Morticia. Still very beautiful, hell, Erin could be bald and wearing a burlap sack and she'd still be beautiful... as a matter of fact I wouldn't mind... ah, skip it.
Anyway, by Wednesday she had finished her audit work and could rejoin the living. I didn't see her on Wednesday because we don't do anything on Wednesday. But I did see her Thursday at the Cooking Club (Banana Foster, without the rum, damn it!), and Friday morning before the movie. I tried to tell her of the invitation I had received the day before to speak at the freaking 20th anniversary dinner for SRHT, but she was busy chatting with female clients all freaking morning. So I told Paul instead who seemed interested, and I Emailed that info to Erin, who had been invited to attend. My speaking engagement has not been confirmed yet. I'll find out Monday.
It was also very good to trade messages with my friend Shannon via FaceBook. She said she liked the post named after her very much, and that it made her miss her grandparents and my mother more than she thought possible. After reading it she called her mother, Bobbie, and told her about it, and then sent me this message:
"Just got off the phone w Mom... was telling her about your blog. She laughed and wanted me to remind you of the time she babysat you when she lived in Hollywood ... and you were waiting for her to make coffee. Remember why? She said you put a MOUSE in the cannister and was just waiting for her to find it. And she did!! She said you weren't afraid of her or anything and just laughed and laughed... She wanted me to tell you that her heart has never been the same!! She said something along the lines of "You little bast**d!! I'll kill you if I catch you!!" LMAO, apparently you ran like hell!! Smart boy you were!! Ahh memories!! She sends her love and laughs your way... : )"
I have no memories of this event, but know it was something I was quite capable of masterminding. I just wonder where I got the mouse.
Please, don't let anybody know, dear readers, but Bobbie doesn't like lizards very much either.
Oh yes, Bobbie has now made me responsible for any future heart condition she may incur.
I had received a box of chocolate cookie mix from Fred Jordan Wednesday and decided to bake them for the movie on Friday. Erin suppled the butter, me the egg, the mix and manpower. It had to watch these cookies very carefully while baking because my oven is broken right now and basically has only one temperature... broil. But I managed, and was able to come up with sixteen tasty chocolate chip cookies, after giving two to Erin, and one for myself, to taste test. It was good. I wish I had one right now.
Jose liked them too.
After subjecting poor Erin to the iconic, "2001, A Space Odyssey," a while back, it was only fitting that I should subject her to the more main stream sequel, "2010," starring our old friend from "Sorcerer," Roy Scheider. Erin enjoyed this movie much more and was thoroughly and actively engaged while watching. She was a little confused about some technical issues which I was only to happy to help clarify for her. For instance, why it was necessary for the Leonov spacecraft to skirt through Jupiter's atmosphere in order to slow down enough to be caught by the giant planet's gravity and enter into orbit, and why the Discovery spacecraft was used as a booster rocket at the end in order for the crew to escape before it's launch window.
"Your so smart Rick," she told me.
"No, you are."
"No, you are."
"No I'm not. You are."
"No, you are."
"No, I insist, you are."
"No, you are."
On and on. This conversation didn't really take place, but it would have been funny if it had.
"Are they in outer space?" Jose asked.
Afterwards, in Erin's office, she told me she had been in an automobile accident that morning. Obviously she was okay, so I wasn't too concerned. She had been driving to work in the fast lane when someone suddenly pulled out in front of her. She rear ended them, but there was almost no damage to either vehicle, and she and the two girls in the other car were alright, so telephone numbers were exchanged, and both continued on their respective journeys.
I walked out with her when she left for the day. She was on her way to get a $50 free massage that she had been suckered into buying because her mother had filled out some contest forms while at a fair when visiting her daughter. I asked her if she was interested in buying this bridge I happened to own in Brooklyn.
The only damage I could see was a bent front license plate.
"You must not have been going that fast," I told her.
"No, I was going pretty fast," she said.
"No you weren't."
"Yes I was..."
On and on.
Before she drove away I gave her a hug, and told her it was nice to get my friend back.
I should have told her to drive carefully too.
Later I took a walk with Ron, and we got into an argument, or actually he got into an argument with himself, I guess. He kept giving me unasked for advice and he resented the fact that I didn't automatically accept his word as gospel and had the temerity to question him, getting so angry that we went our separate ways. I think he's going insane, and quite frankly being around him lately has been more of an ordeal than a pleasure. We shall see.
Now I must leave for Pasadena. See you all, dear readers, tomorrow.