Sunday, February 28, 2010


Rally in Nuremberg

On November 20th, 1945, at 10:00AM, the International Military Tribunal, composed of judges representing the victorious Allied forces, convened to prosecute senior members of the Nazi regime for (1) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of a crime against peace, (2) Initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace, (3) War crimes, and (4) Crimes against humanity, in the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany, the birthplace of the Nazi Party.
There were 24 defendants, ranging from Hermon Goring, the Reichsmarschell, Commander of the Luftwaffe, the German airforce, to Rudolph Hess, Adolph Hitler's Deputy Fuher, to Albert Speers, Germany's Minister of Armaments.
Associate Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson said this during his opening statement: "The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish, have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated."
The end result of the main trial (there were subsequent trials for lesser Nazi officials) consisted of three acquittals, seven sentences of imprisonment from life to 10 years, and 12 death sentences (Martin Borman, the Successor to Rudolph Hess as Nazi Party Secretary, was sentenced to death in absentia. His remains were found in Berlin in 1972 and dated back to 1945. Goring committed suicide by poison the night before he was to be hung. Robert Ley, head of the German Labour Front , committed suicide before the trial began, and industrialist Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was judged medically unfit for trial).
In the early hours of October 16, 1946, the ten condemned Nazi leaders of Nuremberg were led to the prison gymnasium and hanged.
The record of the trial runs to 42 volumes, and it is in "every decent library in the world," as Anthony Marreco, a junior member of the British prosecution team put it.
Many were opposed to the trails at first. Prime Minister Winston Chruchill believed the senior Nazi officers should just be branded as war criminals and summarily placed in front of a firing squad, and the Russian leader, Joseph Stalin (himself one of the greatest mass murders in recorded history) asked that 50,000 to 100,000 thousand German staff officers suffer that same fate. For awhile President Roosevelt tended to agree.
After being dissuaded from executing thousands of regular German army officers, Stalin argued for a trial before executions could take place for major Nazi officials, not wishing to be seen as being afraid to try them for various reasons (bringing attention to the Allied's own atrocities being one, such as the aerial bombing of civilian targets in Germany). Senior American officials persuaded Roosevelt that a trial was indeed necessary, and soon the British were more or less forced to go along, and it was agreed on that these trials would take place.
But to what purpose?
First of all a record needed to be made. An undeniable account of the war itself, who was responsible for starting it, and of course the atrocities that transpired during it, and bringing those responsible for those atrocities to justice needed to be done.
At the time it was hoped that the prosecution of these individuals would deter future transgressions of a similar nature. However, the genocidal conflicts in Bosnia and Rwanda has proven that premise to be false, and now we have Darfur, where the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir has been charged with war crimes and an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court of The Hague, the first time such a call has been made to a sitting head of state.
Good. War criminals should be held accountable for their actions, or at least called out for them if an arrest and subsequent trial is not forthcoming.
Unfortunately there seems to be a double standard concerning the prosecution of suspected war criminals. So far the only indicted individuals are from second and third world countries, such as Bosnia with the ICC's predecessor, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda, by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, held in Arusha, Tanzania. Currently the ICC is investigating crimes in three other nations beside Darfur; Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic.
On the 10th of February 2006, the ICC prosecutor published a letter responding to complaints he had received concerning the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He concluded that there was a reasonable basis to believe that a limited number of war crimes had been committed there, but that the crimes allegedly committed by nationals of states parties did not appear to meet the required gravity threshold for an ICC investigation.
So it seems we will never see the likes of George W. Bush and Tony Blair investigated, or indicted, for the war crimes that they so obviously perpetrated, unless it is through the criminal justice systems of the originating countries, or by third parties, such as Spain's investigation of Bush Administration lawyers involved in Guantanamo policy, like Jay S. Bybee, United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit, Douglas Feith, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, William J Haynes, Chief Corporate Counsel, Chevron Headquarters, John Yoo, UC Berkeley School of Law, Alberto R. Gonzales, and David Addington.
At least Spain and Britan are willing to look back at those policies that shaped the United States position and use of illegal tactics, such as torture, because our own nation is not.
A week ago last Friday, in a typical Bushian tactic of releasing what the administration may deem controversial news reports on Friday afternoons when the media has less time to focus on them, released a long awaited report from the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, determining that White House attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee had committed professional misconduct in writing legal opinions that authorized torture, opening the way for further legal actions against the two, and possible disbarment.
However, on the same day, Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis, the top career attorney at the department, overruled OPR's findings of misconduct, stating only that Yoo and Bybee exercised "poor judgement" and made bad legal arguments, thus barring the OPR from referring the matter to state bar disciplinary authorities where Yoo and Bybee are licensed, and effectively (as far as the Obama administration is concerned) ending the investigation into any aspects of war crimes committed by the Bush administration.
This is particularly troubling as Yoo and Bybee were just pawns used by Bush and Cheney to justify actions which they had already put into practice, thereby "covering their asses," if the matter should ever come under scrutiny in the future. In effect Bush and his cronies broke existing laws against using torture on prisoners of war, then asked their own lawyers to rationalize and legitimize their actions by writing opinions that justified those actions.
It would seem that Bush and his senior officials who broke the law repeatedly by condoning and authorizing so called "enhanced interrogation techniques," had noting to worry about as far as worrying about future administrations investigating, let alone prosecuting their crimes, as President Obama has shown no inclination to do so whatsoever, with Margolis's actions demonstrating that point.
Of course the Republicans are delighted with the DOJ's final decision, hailing Yoo and Bybee true American heros. Those on the left have their own opinion, the following is typical:
"This totally expected action by the DOJ, particularly Holder [Attorney General Eric Holder] and I am sure with the consent of the President, over turns the legal basis for all of the convictions of all the Nazis by the lawyers and judges at Nuremberg, and that also puts into question the trials, convictions and executions of all of those at Nuremberg as it allows for the defense that they were not just following orders but the law. This does more to endanger all American military and civilians around the world than any terrorist organization or state could possibly hoped for in their wildest fantasies! Now the US has absolutely no grounds for seeking fair treatment for any Americans or for that matter any one else captured, detained or arrested anywhere in the world, for this says in essence that American use of torture, while it might have been based on 'poor judgment' was legal and not subject to any legal consequences. Not a surprise at all coming from the Administration of President "America is a nation of the rule of law, with no one above the law' Obama who since taking office has done every thing in his power, short of a mass blanket pardon, to protect and cover the criminal asses of the entire Bush/Cheney gang of war criminals under the laws and Constitution of the United States of America!"
Fortunately at least two members of Congress are dissatisfied with the DOJ's response. Rep, John Conyers (D-Mich) and Sen Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) have called for a thorough investigation of Bush policies, and not ruling out subsequent prosecutions. So justice in this country is not completely dead.
It is my opinion that no matter what beneficial impact the current administration has on this country, now and in the future, if health care, financial regulation, and aggressive curbs on global warming are made and put into place... if everyone who wants a job can find one, the Obama presidency will be a failed presidency in my eyes simply because it failed to hold Bush and his senior officials accountable for their criminal actions.
The thousands of innocent soldiers and civilians alike, who have died because of them deserve much better.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Salvation Diary 21

"Salvation" artist, Amanda Milke

March 29 Friday Day 198

Good Friday (probably from God's Friday), the anniversary of the physical death of Jesus upon the cross. The Friday before Easter, observed as a day of morning and penitence.
You couldn't tell it from looking around here. The Administration of the Pasadena Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, being essentially a Christian organization, gave its warehouse employees and beneficiaries half a day off, more or less, and released them at 1:00. The thrift store closed its doors at 3:00.
The boys, upon returning to the residence, had an excess amount of energy needing to be dissipated, which they did by hurling insults at each other and picking fights. Fighting, being one of the four ways to automatically be terminated from the program (we're here to help each other, not tear each other apart) did not actually occur, and no one was caught doing it or thrown out... but it was close.
My dear friend Dennis Smith almost punched (with abandon) my dear friend (and half of the infamous Zulu Brothers) Reuben Smith. Reuben must have said something in that childish, and totally irritating way of his, and Dennis came within a nanosecond of making mincemeat out of him. Other vocal altercations took place. I could hear them from where I was sitting in one of the restroom stalls (hiding) trying to meditate. Some residents left the building just to briefly escape the frenzied atmosphere.
Curtis Carter returned to us wishing to be re-admitted after having spent some time knocking about on downtown's skid row. Unfortunately there were no openings today. He would have to hang around until Monday hoping to take advantage of one of the weekend's inevitable terminations. I loaned him a blanket so he could sleep outside somewhere.
Without being asked, Andre Laws immediately came to Curtis's aid by getting himself terminated after being caught pilfering.
I wish the horny little fucker well.
Curtis will still have to wait until Monday as there is no intake on Fridays, or over the weekend.
Ron Collins, our new Safety Coordinator, told me that on his first day on the job, he banged his knee, cut his thumb, and jammed his finger. He is currently looking for less hazardous work.
Myself, after waking up at four in the morning only to find "Charlie's Angels," on TV, went back to sleep until lunch. Then wrote and went to work. Having discharged most of my duties I read out of the drug counseling book (learning how to counsel by reading a book is like learning to swim without getting in the water), some of "On the Beach" (a very, very sad story. I find myself getting all misty while reading it), and the "Licit and Illicit Drug" book.
Before I went to bed I noticed a newspaper article in the Times. It discussed the Rolls Royce automobile, and how much white collar criminals like them.
Except this one:
"Newport Beach developer Kent B. Rodgers, sentenced in October to eight years in jail for massive bank fraud, said in an interview last week that he regrets ever buying a Rolls Royce.
'It was the worst car I ever had in my life. It changed lanes by itself'
He reported that the gas milage wasn't that great either."
Somehow this was oddly pleasing to me. I went to sleep tonight knowing that justice was not completely dead.

March 30 Saturday Day 199

Passover. It may have once just been a Spring festival, but that meaning has been obscured by its use by the Orthodox Jewish as a celebration of deliverance from the yoke of Egypt.
I celebrated by waking up at 4:00 to watch a movie on TV, but could not stay awake until the end, falling back asleep until lunchtime.
I read for awhile after lunch. "Milagro," the Bible, and "On the Beach," which takes place mostly near Melbourne, Australia, and stirs within me a desire to return to that country just to hear the ladies talk.
It was quiet at work tonight. Tempers seemed to have evened out compared to yesterday. And no one got drunk, or missed curfew.
I read out of the "Licit and Illicit Drug," book for most of the evening. Later I gave my mom a call to wish her a happy Easter. I learned about what was going on in old Bullhead as well.
It has been raining there recently, and this affects my mom's breathing, but she's holding her own. My sister Cheryl has had to take a step down in rank and pay at her job... from supervisor, back to casino floor person. She's doing this so she can spend more time with her daughter, my lovely niece Keri. Good for her. Good for both of them. My one time friend, "Uncle" Lester, is not feeling too well after his last chemotherapy treatment for the cancer that has lodged itself in his neck.
What can you do?
My mom had been watching the Stanley Kubrick film, "A Clockwork Orange," when I called her. I let her know that Kubrick was my favorite director, and that I would let her get back to the movie.
We told each other that we loved each other and then hung up.
I had told her that I had graduated the program, and that I had a nice certificate to prove it. She asked me what I would be taking in school when I told her that I wanted to go there soon.
"Basket weaving," I said.
I'm a smart ass to my mom sometimes. I could have said anything, but my reply at least gave her a little chuckle.

March 31 Sunday Day 200

Easter Sunday! Chief Christian feast, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ after the crucifixion. "Painting and rolling eggs and wearing new clothes are Easter customs; there is no development of social festivities comparable with those of Christmas." There is no mention of bunnies in my handy dandy encyclopedia.
Appropriately enough I had myself awakened at 4:00 to watch the film, "The Nasty Rabbit," on television. A comedy about a Russian plot to let loose a bacterial laden hare here in the American wilderness.
Horrible movie.
I took care of my matutinal ablutions, then came down and wrote for a while in the canteen area. After a scrumptious breakfast I deposited myself in the lobby and read from "On the Beach."
Major and Mrs. Johnson came in at 8:10. They each said hello to me, and then something odd happened. Mrs. Johnson (Jenny) began telling me about how busy their social life had been lately, and soon the Major (Dale) followed suit.
"We've been to three weddings within the last two weeks," she said.
"And one funeral," the Major said.
"You must be getting tired," I observed.
"It is a little much. Last night we were driving with our daughter-in-law... she's pregnant you know... and she got sick all over the car." She made a face of mock disgust mixed with loving tolerance.
"Motion sickness," the Major added.
"Yes, that happened to me quite a bit when I was much younger," I said.
"Me too," the Major said. "Especially when people around me were smoking." He shook his head in abject disapproval.
I started to tell Mrs. Johnson about when I was a little boy, and that I liked corn-on-the-cob so much that I would eat it until I puked my guts out. After up-chucking all over a nice restaurant my mother would never let me order it again.
Mrs. Johnson seemed very interested.
Clarence Orion sang today in chapel. He's quite a good singer actually. He looks like a person who needs help while doing it though.
After services I helped Mr. Vasquez lock up the chapel, then went to my lonely room to watch most of the movie, "Harvey," with James Stewart and Josephine Hull. Marvelous story and delightful movie.
I ate lunch, then slept for most of the afternoon because I had only gotten about two and a half hours sleep the night before. I woke at 2:30 to the sound of very odd organ music coming from my TV, which was tuned to a channel showing the movie, "Baghdad Cafe."
After dinner I watched a fine episode of "Star Trek, the Next Generation." It involved invisible aliens and their insidious ways of reproducing.
I got a front row seat for the Sunday night VCR movie, "Grim Prairie Tales," starring James Earl Jones. I don't know what they had in mind when they made this thing, but whatever it was it didn't work. I was glad when I was called to the desk half way through the film. Clarence Bliss called me over the PA system because; one, he couldn't find Robert Vasquez; and two, all of the drains on the first floor had started to back up, discharging massive amounts of odious sludge all over the place.
I directed Clarence to get maintenance on the drains, and to page Mr. Vasquez over at the warehouse, because that was the direction he had been headed when last seen.
After Robert returned, and maintenance got things under control, I slipped up to my lonely room, feeling somewhat lonely, and watched another stupid Clint (kill everything in sight) Eastwood film. After the Clint (make it with your wife the minute your back is turned) Eastwood film, I went to sleep feeling happy and at peace with the world, knowing that Clint would handle anything that may come up.

April 1 Monday Day 201

April Fool's Day!
I was woken at 4:00 again. I wanted to get an early start to the Federal Building in Westwood, but I decided to sleep in a little more.
It took a great act of will to pry myself out of bed in time to shower and make it downstairs for lunch. Chicken patties.
I made it to the bus stop shortly before 11:30, and had great good fortune with the buses today. I did not wait more than three minutes for any of them. The 483 south on Fair Oaks, to downtown at Grand and 7th, then the 320 west on Wilshire all the way through Beverly Hills (where the Hillbillies live), into Westwood near the San Diego freeway. About a two hour trip one way.
The Federal Building is huge and a tad imposing. I passed through a metal detector on my way to the Veteran's Assistance area. I gave the clerk there my name and took a seat. Very nice modern facility. A television hooked up to a VCR was showing the movie, "The Hunt for Red October." It was ending when I got there. Soon a lady came out of nowhere and popped another cassette tape into the VCR machine, and "E.T." began.
Shortly, a nondescript middle aged lady with long white hair called my name, and asked me to follow her to her desk. I did this. I figured I better or nothing would happen. Once we were seated, she asked what it was that she could do for me. I let her know. I told her that I was seeking an upgrade of my military discharge, from an "Other Than Honorable" to an
I had gotten too drunk several times while in the service and wandered off for days at a time. The navy doesn't like that type of behavior. I had no veteran's papers, or Veteran's ID to show her.
"We have forms for that," she said.
Why was I not surprised?
She gave me two of them. One to retrieve my military records from the Military Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The other was the application for the upgrade. I thanked the lady for the two forms then went back to the bus stop. It seems appropriate somehow that in dealing with the federal government I would need to spend four hours on the bus for three minutes of service.
It was a good bus ride though. I like to look at the people walking around, and the contrast between the old and new buildings. If you look carefully into the windows of some of the older buildings you can see clear through to the other side. I wondered what it looked like in those rooms, and what the building had been used for when it had seen better days.
Buses are particularly suited for this type of sight seeing.
As chance would have it, I arrived back at the residence just in time for dinner (spaghetti). I noticed Barbara Grothe and Milda sitting by themselves at my usual table. I asked them if I could sit there, and they said that I could. Now, once again I had these two lovely ladies all to myself.
How exciting.
Milda asked how my book was going. She believes that it is a good thing that I write. That it's therapeutic. Indeed it is. There is little doubt that writing this helps me to stay sober.
I don't know why.
They asked me what it was I felt that gave me a chance of staying sober this time around considering I've relapsed so many times. I told them that by pure dumb luck (and one lie, and a little work), and thanks to Jack Crossley's not wanting to work a second shift, I had been given a job with some responsibility, which I managed not to fuck up too much, which made me feel a little better about myself, because I've always known that I could handle a job of some responsibility but had never had the chance, and so far I've done a good job, which has improved my very, very low self esteem. I also told them that I have now seen what the bottom looks like, and I realized there was little future there, and that I had been lucky not to have gotten used to the bottom (the Park).
These things, among others, helps me to stay sober now. Writing helps.
Jill told me that she thinks that I will stay sober. For the first year at least.
My God, I hope she's right.

April 2 Tuesday Day 202

"The Apprenticeship of Dudley Kravitz," was on channel 13 at four this morning. I directed my eyes toward the TV until I had woken up sufficiently to turn it off. Only a person on a tremendous amount of speed could stand to watch a young Richard Dreyfuss zipping around without throwing up.
I was at my desk at a little after 5:00AM, typing in the answers to the two forms I had received yesterday. I also wrote. I managed to keep myself fairly busy throughout my work day, running urine tests, stocking up on janitorial supplies, and so forth.
I saw Richard, my counselor, for the first time in two weeks. He had been sick last week. He still looked sick. I returned his chemical counseling book to him, admitting surprise that it expounds controlled drinking as a recovery option. I disagree totally. That is not an option for alcoholics.
I was scheduled to see Maggie and Major Foote today, but Maggie had no time for me. She said she had to go to a meeting. Just as well, it gave me more time to finish my job market survey.
Which I haven't started.
I took a little nap after work, then read part of Norman Mailer's "Marilyn." Or looked at the pictures at least.
I was sitting in the lobby, minding my own business, when Mr. Vasquez announced over the PA system that Jill would be late for her group counseling meeting. Of the ten people who were in the lobby with me, nine of them were heard to say, "So what's new?"
I noticed the little girls from next door from where I was sitting. They were in front of the residence playing, begging for money and candy from whoever happened to out there, guys smoking cigarettes and lounging around after the evening meal. I would say their ages ranged from seven to ten years old. I was fond of one little girl in particular. She is a small, pretty little girl, with great black hair and dark brown eyes. She, like the other little girls who live around here, are of Spanish, or Mexican ancestry. She will no doubt grow up to be a beauty. She once confided to me that her name is Jasmine. I like her because when I talk to her, or when she looks at something, her eyes grow huge and her mouth drops open as if she were in a constant state of awe of everything around her, and all that she sees and hears. I walked out to talk to them, but they were too interested in what they were doing to pay any attention to me. Soon their mothers called to them and they all ran home.
Jill finally arrived, and we began our group. We discussed last weeks goals, and if we had met them. One of Tracy Alexander's goals had been to learn a new word, and be able to use it in a sentence. I have on occasion tried to help Tracy through some of the beginning Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. One through Three, to be exact. Tonight I provided a word for him as well. Quarks. Or a quark. The definition of this word which Tracy was able to find went like this: "Hypothetical subatomic particle that possess a fractional electrical charge, and is the fundamental unit of matter."
That is as good a definition as I've heard. Short, and too the point. I was surprised to learn that Jill had no idea what a quark was. Dennis Smith argued with me as to their actual existence (they do exist. We've been able to see where they've been), which wouldn't make any difference anyway. The word "quark" exists, and for this discussion thats all that mattered.
Jill, not to be out done, had a few words of her own. While attempting to discover what Tom Rotsch's week had been like (like me, Tom is staying in Jill's group on a voluntary basis. Maybe he's secretly in love with her too. Ahhh! I can't stand all of these secret rivals), Tracy was making a nuisance of himself by talking to Kelly Timmons. The second time Jill asked Tracy to be quiet, she added, "Tracy, stop it! Your being obstreperous!" Well, Tracy didn't know what to make of that. Later she labeled Dennis Smith as obsequious." This perplexed Dennis so much that after group he looked up these words in a dictionary. Probably as good as anyplace to look up a word. I found these definitions in the "Random House Dictionary," 1980 edition. "Obstreperous adj, resisting control in a noisy and difficult manner. Syn. boisterous, disorderly, unruly." I'm sure Dennis found something similar to the definition I found for obsequious. "Adj. servilely compliant or deferential." Dennis later confronted Jill.
"I looked up obsequious, Jill. Do you know what the slang definition of obsequious is Jill? Hummm? Do you? It means a wimp, that's what it means! I'm not a wimp! By no stretch of the imagination am I a wimp! I'm a hard-hitting, basketball-playing, jock-duuuude! You better start finding out what these ten dollar words mean before you start throwing them around, young lady. Next week find a better word that describes me. That's your assignment for the week. Got it?
"Yes Dennis."
Later, while I was thumbing through the encyclopedia in the lobby, Stacy came in and said hello to me.
"Took a little vacation last week, did we Stacy?" I asked her. She had not been here the week before.
"Yes," she answered. She's such a pretty young lady. I re-fell in love with her.
While munching out on a nice cheeseburger, I tried to cheer up my friend Ron Collins. He was a little depressed. He had banged his head earlier on a first aid cabinet while inspecting it. He told me that the thing he most wanted to do in life was to have a lot of money... and sit in a bar all day and drink.
I told him that didn't sound too bad really, but if he were to do that he would be kind of wasting his life, making himself sleep through whatever existence was meant for him.
"I'm wasting my life anyway," he said. "I start to think about how old I'm getting, and how I'll never have a good job, or do what I want to do. I'll probably live in a place like this forever. Like him." He pointed to Eddie Acuna who happened to be sitting with us. At Ron's last remark, Eddie and Ron began to playfully bicker, as only close friends can, which allowed me to make a fast and graceful exit.
I have no quick and easy answers for Ron, except that I know that drinking will only make matters much worse. That's the last thing he wants to hear.
At 8:00, John Carpenter's remake of "The Thing," was on channel 13, so I watched it. I'd seen it before, so I sat in horror at the violence the television editors had wrought upon this film. They had taken out almost everything that had made this movie interesting in the first place. They had taken the thing out of "The Thing!" Literally.
I began reading "Working," by Studs Turkel. It seems like a book I should enjoy. Jill recommended it.
We shall see.
I planned to be woken by Woody Allen at 4:00AM, so I went to sleep early and dreamed of endless snow.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Walk

Sixth Street Bridge from the east side

After experiencing Enlightenment last Sunday it became instantly clear to me that I needed to exercise more. As I recently told my lovely psychologist, Dr. Kimberly, sitting behind a desk all day is not all that... strenuous. And to top things off I read this article about sitting in the New York Times this morning,

which basically explains why you will die if you sit too much.
And I do sit a great deal. I can't see myself standing while typing for this blog, or other things I write. It's hard enough to type while sitting, hitting the wrong letters once out of fifty times (as opposed to my lovely case manager, Erin, who zips right along without making discernable mistakes, even though we both utilize the "two finger" method to type). I suppose I could stand while doing research, or watching television, or reading, but that would remind me too much of Donald Rumsfeld, who wrote in a 2002 memo; "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing [by prisoners] limited to four hours?" when authorizing the use of stress positions during interrogations.
Anyway, I will strive to walk vigorously for at least 30 minutes each day, on top of the physical exertions I experience from our weekly yoga class, and my normal daily exercise regimen.
I like to walk anyway. You could say that walking is an integral part of my writing process, as I get a good amount of my ideas while I do so, or ofttimes find myself editing in my mind what I have previously written while strolling through the streets of downtown Los Angeles.
Many people I know shun walking as being beneath them, or a waste of time. I say to these people: "Poo poo." Walking is good for you, and is always recommended by heath care professionals as a great form of exercise for folks of any age... even little babies and old people.
Of course it would probably be a lot more beneficial for me, and others who live in or near Los Angeles, to vigorously walk, (or jog. I'll need to start training soon for the LA Marathon) where the air isn't so thick with smog you can chew it.
Perhaps I should invest in a gas mask.
I experienced Enlightenment last Sunday while walking. On Seventh Street, walking east between Vermont Ave and Alvarado Street, after attending services at First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, oh at around 12:20PM or so.
It not that big of a deal really. After years of meditation and examination of the infinite void, I was just ready I guess, and my life path became crystal clear to me, and I at once felt at peace, and quite fulfilled and happy, which is not a word I use lightly. "Content" perhaps is a wiser choice, for happiness just by it's very nature is transitory, and I have found that since last Sunday I have been consistently content... except when dealing with Erin of course... she still has the capacity to drive me bug nuts (and that is only because I allow her to, because it is always me that reacts weirdly to other people and their actions, it really has nothing to do with them, per se, and I allow her to bother me because I care enough about her to allow her to get close enough to affect me and my expectations. Now, after Enlightenment, I find myself without expectations, which is a great relief)... but only for a little while now, then I'm content again.
I'm not saying that I now know what the future holds for me, or I have the answers to everything, I certainly do not. But I do know what I should do within the next 24 hours to make the best of my time, perhaps the next week maybe, and by extension, by knowing that and tallying up all those days and weeks one has the sense that a substantial part of one's life can and will be well managed to the point that one is able to experience life to the fullest, and appreciate all of it's intricacies and beauty to the utmost.
Pretty cool huh?
Anyway, Hardy was supposed to come to my box last night after 6:00, so we could walk together east over the Sixth St. Bridge, or viaduct actually. He makes this walk on a regular basis as a major component of his exercises (and has recently joined us at yoga class once again. For a man in his late sixties his attitude toward physical fitness is quite progressive). He told me it usually takes him about 30 minutes to walk to the end of the bridge and back, which was just what I was looking for (I can do the same thing in the opposite direction by walking west to the Central Library).
He didn't show up though, so this morning at 7:34 exactly I took off on my own for this invigorating excursion.
The Sixth Street Viaduct (meaning it is made of several components) connects the Los Angeles downtown area with Boyle Heights in East LA, and spans the Los Angeles River (which used to be a real river, but is now constrained by concrete in a fixed course), the Santa Ana and Golden Gate freeways, as well as a whole bunch of railroad tracks used by Metrolink, and the Union Pacific Railroad. It was build in 1932 (the largest concrete bridge in the state for the first 13 years after it was built), is 3,446 feet long (I took a tape measure), and is included in the National Registry of Historical Places (correction: May be included, it is "eligable").
It's been used in movies quite a bit. It can be seen in the films "Grease," "Terminator 2," and "S.W.A.T.," among others, and music videos too, like Madonna's "What it Feels Like for a Girl." Homeless people typically camp underneath it.
I take the 18, or 720 buses over it all of the time to get to the closest supermarket and 99 Cent Store (where everything costs a dollar these days... thanks President Bush), but I've never walked over the entire length of it until this morning.
First I had to walk east on Sixth to Santa Fe Ave., where the bridge begins. I made the mistake of walking up the bridge's incline on the right side, along with the traffic, so it was coming up from behind me where I couldn't see it. It was like walking along a busy freeway, with cars and buses swooshing past at high speeds. Next time I'll walk on the left side so I can see whats coming at me.
Wikipedia tells us this:
"During the construction of the viaduct, an on-site plant was used to supply the concrete for construction. However, the quality of the concrete turned out to have a high alkali content and lead to an alkali-silica reaction which creates cracks in the concrete and saps the strength of the structure.
Current estimates are that the viaduct has a 70% probability of collapse due to a major earthquake within 50 years."
I didn't know this until a little while ago when I looked it up. However, as I reached the first arch section on the west side of the bridge, I noticed 1 1/2 inch cracks in the concrete where I could see portions of the LA River way down below me. I said to myself "WTF? Is this thing safe." Knowing the state of this countries infrastructure I had my doubts. However, I decided to take my chances hoping Los Angeles would not experience a major earthquake while I was on it (actually I'd rather be anywhere else when the next big earthquake strikes, like Ireland).
It was fun looking at the sleeping city wake up. Cars with people in them going to work. A Metrolink passed beneath me headed north to Union Station. I could see employees in a yard filled with large tires roaming about, and I thought about them spending large amounts of their lives in that small area to make a living.
Large warehouses spread out below me to both sides. I could see the Metropolitan Water District's office to the north, as well as the Twin Towers jail, and the "Death Palace," the USC General Hospital off in the distance, where the city's morgue is located.
My mind wandered a bit as it often does when I walk around by myself. I thought about this blog as the cars continued to swoosh on by, about the piece I was writing about the Nuremberg trials, and I thought about my niece, who had had her first child yesterday. I remembered the day when I first saw her, when she was just about three years old, dressed in a party dress outside a Mexican restaurant in Grenada Hills, with her mother and grandmother. I had not been around when Keri was born. I was much too busy being a professional alcoholic, and all. I hadn't been around for most of her life, not that she needed me to be. She didn't.
We always got along though, and I genuinely loved her... liked her too. She was a naturally "precocious" child, hyper, and overactive, not being able to sit in one place for any length of time. What a handful she must have been for her mother.
And now she was a mother herself.
Wow, life is a trip.
Where Sixth Street magically turned into Whittier Blvd, I crossed at the light near a Dominoes Pizza store, a Launderia, and the "Little Wheels of Death" donut shop, then headed back on the north walkway of the bridge, the cars still swooshing past. It took a good forty-five minutes, maybe fifty to get back to my box and begin to write this.
Later on I'll address those residents who show up at the monthly Resident Meeting, and try and pitch free Red Cross CPR and first aid classes to those who may be interested in learning how to save others lives in an emergency. This is a natural reaction to my friend Jose's death, and has already been approved by some members of the SRHT management, although no one has been particularly active in setting anything up until now, hence my pitch today. I hope we have a few takers.
After that meeting who knows what will happen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

He's Here!

I am very proud to announce the arrival of Jaxin Lee!
He entered this veil of tears at 3:46PM today, my time, 4:46 in Bullhead City where he was born by Caesarean section (he was supposed to come out via induced labor, but the little bugger didn't want to... I can't say as I blame him). Weighing in at 8 pounds, and 21 1/2 inches tall (if he could stand, let's say instead 21 1/2 inches long... I have no idea how wide he is).
Mother Keri Lynn is doing well, although she seems to be very cold.
"Give her some blankets," I told my sister Cheryl.
"No... that's just what she expects," Cheryl replied.
No, not really. I'm kidding. Keri has plenty of blankets.
"Maybe it's the demerol," my sister really said.
Well let's all hope Keri warms up soon.



And thanks a lot for making me a freaking granduncle, for Christ's sake!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Drew & Jeri!

Happy Birthday!!!

Cute Drew


Today birthday wishes are in order for lovely Drew Barrymore (35, geez, I can remember when she was yea hi, and screaming at ET), and Jeri Ryan, my favorite Borg entity and high school teacher (and surprisingly had a part in the election of our new President).
Today also marks the 1 year anniversary of this blog, Joyce's Take! So happy birthday to me!
Yes, I knew we'd make it despite what Erin said. We began one year ago today with the entry entitled "Hi!" reproduced below (for those of you dear readers who don't know how to scroll backwards). I read it myself this morning and laughed my ass off. Now I got no ass!
Take a look back, dear readers, and I hope you enjoy. I look forward to the upcoming year because there's oh so much to talk about and there isn't anyone I'd rather do it with than you:

Hi! My name is Richard Joyce and God asked me to write this. Not the previous sentence particularly, but this blog or web site in general. I for one am going to do what God says, even though I don't believe in him, and he knows it (I use the masculine term for convenience, if this offends you, please feel free to substitute "she," "it," "majestic, mighty, all powerful spiritual presence," or whatever, I don't mind, and neither does God. He told me).
I live in a box in the "Fish Offal District" of downtown Los Angeles. It's a good box, and I'm comfortable here. I've lived in this box for over five years now, and I have no intention of leaving anytime soon, especially since I just got my cable TV hooked up a couple of weeks ago. It sure is expensive, but at least I don't have to fuss with an antenna anymore. Channel 5 comes in crystal clear now, almost every time.
Anyway, I was sleeping peacefully one night, minding my own business, when God grabbed me on the shoulder, and said, "Wake up Joyce, you've got work to do."
When this kind of thing happens to me I usually attribute it to the consumption of huge quantities of malt liquor from the previous evening. However, I vaguely remembered having stopped drinking and using most mind numbing substances years previously. "Leave me alone," I cried, as I rolled over onto my side and tried to quickly return to the oblivion of sleep.
God was obstinate though, and a tad obstreperous.
"Joyce!" he cried. "Get up now! I haven't got all day."
"Go Away," I replied, stubbornly digging my head deeper into my pillow.
Then he gave me a leg cramp.
I bolted upright, hopping out of my rack as if struck by a bolt of lightening (and considering the circumstances, that could have easily been the case).
There is only one sure fire remedy that I'm aware of to ease the razor like bolt of pain that usually accompanies the cramping of the lower leg. That is to put your full weight on the affected leg, standing as straight as possible, stretching the calf muscle to counterbalance the involuntary contraction. Usually this procedure quickly de-cramps the muscle, shooing away the agony almost instantaneously.
I sat back on my bed, breathing in spurts, looking up to see Morgan Freeman sitting on a sofa directly in front of me, looking back at me with what I believed to be bemused distaste.
I thought this was decidedly odd as I don't own a sofa.
"Morgan Freeman," I stuttered, "what are you doing here?"
"I'm not Mr. Freeman," God said. "He was just the last one to have portrayed me in a movie. Damn fine actor, though."
"If you're not Morgan Freeman, than who are you, and what are you doing here?"
"Not too quick on the uptake, are you, Joyce?" He leaned closer to me and whispered, "I'm God."
"Ha, ha," I replied. "You can't be God."
"Why," God asked.
"Well, for one thing... I don't believe in God."
"How do you explain the couch."
"Well... I'm not sure. This can all be some kind of elaborate joke... and you can be one of those celebrity look-a-likes..."
"Want me to prove it to you." He snapped his fingers.
"Not really..." At this point my leg began to cramp up again.
I stood up, winching. "God Damn it!" I cried.
"Watch out for what you ask for, Joyce." He snapped his fingers again and the pain in my leg disappeared immediately.
I fell back on my bed, breathless. "Jesus H Christ!" I called out clutching my offended limb.
"Still don't believe me," God Asked.
"No," I cried, "of course not. You're probably something I ate last night. Some kind of hallucination..."
God raised his fingers again.
"No, no... wait a minute. Okay, okay, let's say you're God. What do you want with me?"
"Ah, now we're getting someplace," God said. "I want you to start writing on the Internet. A blog, is what I believe they call them."
"You want me to write a blog? That's what this is about? Why would I do that. I've got enough to do," I protested.
"Downloading porn off the Internet is not what is normally called a considered career choice, Joyce."
"What? How do you know..." I gave up. "What do you want me to write about?"
"The truth, of course. I'm so tired of all the lies being spread out there, using my name to legitimize anything from pipelines, to wars. Everybody thinks I'm on they're side. The Americans think every despicable thing they do is supported by me, and it's just not true. The Muslims think that every despicable thing they do is supported by me. That's not true either. To tell you the truth, I'm not on anybody's side! The Buddhists are the only ones who give me any peace, and that's because, like you, they don't believe in me... I'm tired of every pipsqueak politician using my name to advance some petty, selfish cause, or horrendous humanitarian blunder. I'm tired of of being used to legitimize brutality, to back national aggression, to promote injustice, to sanction lifestyle choices. Do you really think I spend a lot of time worrying about homosexuals getting married?"
"Well, I imagine your quite busy..."
"You're damn right I am! I don't spend any time worrying about it. I don't care what they, or anybody else does, as long as it doesn't hurt any one."
"Seems logical to me."
"Yeah," God continued. "And don't worry about the Bible. I didn't have anything to do with that. A bunch of drunken, overzealous sheepherders came up with that one. No one asked me?"
"You're kidding? So many people think that it's your direct word," I said.
"Your right. They also believe in astrology, little green men visiting from outer space (Oh, they're out there all right, but like me, they've got better things to do than come to earth and poke people), Santa Clause, Tarot cards, ghosts, that Rush Limbaugh tells the truth... here's a good one, that John McCain stands for change..." God tried for a small moment to hold it in, but couldn't, "...HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!"
God's laughter is infectious. I busted out too, "HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!"
God: "HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha..."
Me: "HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha..."
God: "Ha, Ha, Ha, He, He, He., He, Ha, HA, HA, HE, HE, He, He, HEeeee..."
Me: "Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, HE, He, He, HA, HE, HE, Heee..."
Tears began to stream from both of us. God and I had a good laugh over that one.
After a good two minutes, God began to catch his breath, and muttered, "Ha, Ha, He, He, oh my word... you know, ha, ha, listen to this, he, he... I heard it on the radio this morning, He, He..., you know, do you know... what the difference between George Bush and Governor Sarah Palin is?"
"No, He, He, what is it?"
We both busted up again. We couldn't stop laughing. After a few moments I had to slap God on the back as he had begun a huge coughing fit.
After he recovered, somewhat, he looked at me and said, "Don't ever touch God again, Joyce."
"Oh, sorry."
"My point is, some, a lot of people believe anything! It's ridiculous." God looked at me, "That's where you come in."
"Me? What can I do?"
"Not much, admittedly. You people are so screwed up down here, it's hardly worth the bother. But I need you to try."
"Try what?"
"I don't think you're paying attention, son. I need you to spread my word through your blog..."
"Now wait a minute. I can't do that. If I start writing that God is speaking strictly through me to spread his word they'll lock me up in the looney bin so fast it will make your head spin."
"Yeah, and rightly so, HA, HA! But you don't have to tell anybody that it's really me that's telling you what to write. You just go ahead and write it, I'll help you out once in a while. I like your stuff, and think you're on the right track."
"Wow, I don't know..."
"Listen," God said, "You don't really believe you're talking to me right now, do you? To the creator of all the Universes. You still don't, do you? You think you're dreaming all of this, don't you? Come on, tell God the truth."
"Well, yeah, you're right..."
"See! You're the perfect person to spread my word. A die hard atheist. I doesn't matter if you tell them that you're writing my word, or not. I don't care. Heck, as far as I'm concerned, you can tell everybody that God told you to tell them that there is no God! How do you like that?! It certainly would bring me some peace."
"Yeah, you said that already. So, you ready to get started, or what?"
"Do I have a choice?"
"Sure you do. Sure you do. Everybody has a choice. Your's is to either start writing this blog... or I'll send you to the Fiery Pit for all eternity."
"What the... now wait a minute... your kidding... aren't you?"
God continued to stare at me with that God like stare of his. He didn't look like he was kidding.
Then he busted up.
"HA, HA, HA, Ha, Ha, He, He, He... yeah, I'm kidding. If you don't believe in me, you sure don't believe in the Fiery Pit?" He became serious again, "Or do you?"
"Now wait a minute... you're, you're kidding again.. right?"
"Sure, I'm kidding," not laughing. "You'll do this for me, won't you? I highly recommend it."
"Well, if you put it that way... I guess. But boy, a lot of people are going to get real mad at me."
"So what? Tell them you're on a mission..."
"A mission... from..."
"Yes Elwood, you can tell them you're on a mission from God."
"Gee wiz! Yeah, okay, I'll do it."
God was happy. "Good, that's settled then. I've got to get going..."
"Hey, wait a minute, I've got a question, or two..."
God looked inpatient. "What is it?"
"Well, let's see, huum. Michael Shermer (Famous skeptic and sex symbol) would kill me if I didn't ask this..."
"Okay, you're God, right? Creator of everything..."
"Yeah, well..."
"Where did you come from?"
"Ha, Ha... I knew you'd ask that one. Well, the answer is quite simple. I came from..."
"...yes, yes?"
"What! How can that be? God has a mother?"
"Of course I have a mother. What did you think? That God just popped out of the non existent cabbage patch?"
"Well I had no idea... alright, but where did she come from?"
"Flunk high school biology, Joyce? She came from my grandmother."
"Right!, then where did she come from?"
"I can see where this is headed, Joyce, but I'm afraid it's mothers all the way down!"
With that, God disappeared in a flash and puff of smoke.
He took the sofa with him.
"Damn," I said. "I liked that sofa."
Well, that's how it is folks. I'm officially on a mission from God.
He didn't explicitly say it was okay, but I intend to use this blog to make weekday entries, as well as publish some other stuff...

And the rest is history.

Sunday, February 21, 2010




Nicole Parker

Erma Bombeck

Ellen Page

People I don't know whose birthday is today





On this beautiful, cloudy Sunday morning here in Los Angeles I find myself filled with anxious anticipation awaiting the arrival of Jaxin, who is currently -2 days old.
My lovely niece, Keri Lynn, will be having a baby boy on Tuesday by induced labor, thus the certainty involved with Jaxin's birthday.
Jaxin, by the way, is named after the character "Jax Teller" on the television show "Sons of Anarchy," the young vice-president of the motorcycle club which bears the same name as that of the show. He is also described as a smuggler, gun runner, and a mechanic. Apparently my niece has some affinity for the "bad boy," stereotype, something she must have picked up from her mother.
Birthday congratulations are in order today for Ms Jennifer Love Hewitt, the lovely actress, singer, and speaker to the dead, who officially turns into an old woman today at 31 years (ladies above 40 are young again by the very nature of their virtue, grace, and wit... no cards and letters please), and who has the distinction (along with Arnold Schwarzenegger) of appearing in one of my world famous short stories (see, Love).
It also happens to be the birthday of the lovely comedian, Nicole Parker, who is one year older than Love, one of my heros, Erma Bombeck (83) (no longer with us I'm sad to say. "Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving."), Ellen Page (23) (who is currently selling her soul to Cisco), and many others, some I don't even know.
Okay, let's get up to date.
Last Tuesday my lovely friend Michelle sent me an Email in which she called me, and I quote: "Mr. Grumpypants."
Obviously Erin and Michelle are in cahoots, and both projecting their own failings onto me. I'm glad to say that I feel strong enough to take their abuse and will be constantly available to stand as a therapeutic tool for their convenience.
Yesterday I actually went to the AMC theater at Universal Studios City Walk to see the new Martin Scorsese film, "Shutter Island," staring Leo DeCaprio, Sir Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, and the lovely Michelle Williams (whose birthday isn't until September). I had read the novel by Dennis Lehane, the author of "Mystic River," and "Gone Baby Gone" (another movie I gave to lovely Erin for Christmas), both of these books made into films as well.
On the whole I believe "Mystic River," and "Gone Baby Gone," (the films) to be superior to "Shutter Island," but still it was certainly a well crafted, psychological, gritty, atmospheric thriller, possibly an homage, if you will, to Alfred Hitchcock. As I sat through the movie I wished to myself (since no one else was around) that I had not read the book before hand, as then I would have gotten more caught up in the plot as it eventually unfolded, but I must say that knowing the "trick" to the trick ending, I was able to make sure the characters acted accordingly throughout the film, and to Scorsese's credit, they did, no detectable cheating involved.
Thanks go to lovely Erin for the use of my remaining birthday Fandango Bucks to get me inside.
This morning, after a strenuous workout and yoga routine I began to see Republicans everywhere.
I found the media (at least CNN and MSNBC) falling all over themselves to report the latest from the CPAC convention as if whatever they did was of any importance. Republicans here, Republicans there, freaking Republicans everywhere, screaming out their collective, sociopathic, vindictive rantings to all who would listen. The conference, which concluded yesterday, was remarkably free from fact based information, extreme right wing propaganda being preferred to anything that resembled the truth found in the real world. Lies spewed by the likes of Mitt (Mitt) Romney, Newt (Newt) Gingrich, and Glenn (Insane) Beck were met with wild applause and cheers, facts inadvertently introduced during panel sessions were met with intolerant booing.
It was reported that attendance at CPAC was markedly up this year, and that a good half of the attendees were young people... poor misguided bastards.
This conference is supposedly a forum to solicit "conservative" ideology, not necessarily affiliated directly with the Republican Party, but if I were a Republican I'd be kind of worried (despite the assurances from Gingrich and Cheney that they will win back both houses of Congress this year, and the White House in 2012) as Ron Paul, (a Republican in name only... he's actually a libertarian, which Thomm Hartmann defines as a Republican who wants to smoke dope and get laid) won this year's Presidential Straw Poll, which as I understand it, is the conference's (conservatives) favorite for the next President. He won with 31%, with Romney and Sarah Palin (who wasn't even there) coming in second and third.
These people are so screwed up they booed their own choice when Paul was announced as the winner.
Well at least it is now over. The media needs to realize that the Republicans lost the last election and what they say doesn't matter anymore. But they kept reporting it over and over again, along with that poor bastard, Tiger Woods apology for being human. The only real news being reported this morning was the tragic story of three teenage girls being run down by a train in Florida. That made me misty.
Anyway, I had to change the channel, first to the AMC channel to watch a little "Chicago," then after Meet the Press, woman's curling at the winter Olympics. I never realized how wild this sport is (these girls are like vicious animals!).
I later attended the service at the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, the service presided over by Alice (lovely woman who sang the Curtis Mayfield song "People Get Ready" like an opera angel). I attended the service specifically to hear the guest speakers (two unlovely guys, Jim and Paul I think) who were representing the Southern California chapter of LifeRing, a secular support group organization, much more prevalent in the San Francisco Bay area than down here (there's only one meeting so far in Southern California, in Costa Mesa, wherever that is). These support groups seem to be very loosely structured, much less so than the SOS (Save Our Selves) groups I've attended, which are just like A.A., except they don't mention a Higher Power.
I've always said that when people come together to confront a common problem, well it sure can't hurt. And when Alice introduced the idea of using First Unitarian as a base to begin another LifeRing meeting, I volunteered my services. This made me feel good.
We shall see.
I felt so good that I walked most of the way home just for the exercise (I've got to start burning calories man. Sitting in a chair and typing all day is just not all that physically taxing).
I felt so good that I stopped thinking about the Department of NoJustice's sneaky Friday afternoon big FU to the Nuremberg trails, and all that they stood for.
But we'll discuss that a little later.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Salvation Diary 20

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

March 24 Sunday Day 193

I had asked to be woke at 4:00 so I could catch a movie on TV that came on at that time. "Creature," a bad B movie ripoff of "Alien." I had seen it before, but was badly in need of a science fiction fix. I stayed awake throughout.
Half way through the movie I hopped in the shower, so by the time the creature got electrocuted I was dressed and ready for the day.
I got a special fix of caffeine in liquid form from the canteen, and wrote while I consumed it. At 7:00 I ate breakfast (yucky pancakes and sausage), then returned to the canteen to write some more. At 8:00 I retrieved my tie from my room, then went to the lobby to write some more.
Then at 8:45, I along with everyone else went to chapel. I was once again given the privilege of presenting this week's responsive reading, and once again, managed not to muck it up too much (I was a a lot less nervous this time, probably because Major and Mrs. Johnson were noticeably absent).
One of my recurring fantasies involves Mrs. Major Hall (Ret.) She and her husband attend our services each Sunday, and she has been gracious enough to play the piano for us, ever since Audrey (the other piano player I had fantasies about) went back to Australia. The Hall's must be in their seventies, and she makes use of a cane to help her move around. My fantasy concerns the music she plays. Once, just once, instead of the soft, nondescript, melodious passages she provides as a background while us ushers are busy collecting money throughout the congregation, I would like her to break out into some Rock and Roll boogie. I can hear her voice now screaming out, "I just can't get enough of that sweet stuff my lady gets behind!"
It will probably never happen.
I took a little nap after chapel because I was tired. When I woke I read some of the "Beanfield," book, then finished "A Brief History of Time." As an epilogue, Hawking provided three brief biographical accounts of Albert Einstein, Galileo, and Isaac Newton. It was interesting to read about what an unpleasant person Newton apparently was.
I sat between Russell Burke and Mr. Vasquez at dinner. Russell was telling us that he might not be able to fulfill his duty this evening as the team mascot for the basketball game between our Pasadena A.R.C. and the dreaded Los Angeles A.R.C.. Russell wanted to watch a real basketball game on television tonight.
"They'll lose if you don't show up, Russell," I told him.
"I know. Yeah, they'll probably lose the game."
It turned out that Russell was able to attend the game, but we lost anyway.
I was able to finish my first version of the Fourth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous during the afternoon. One never really completes this step, making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, until one kicks the bucket.
At 5:30, Dennis Smith, Kevin Rockoff, Marvin Smith, and I were driven by Mr. Vasquez to the Glendale High School auditorium to witness a performance from the Salvation Army Tabernacle Band and Songsters.
Not inappropriately, the place was crawling with Salvation Army type people. Officers, Auxiliary Officers, Soldiers, Adherents, various Salvation roadies and groupies, all decked out in their shiny black Salvation Army uniforms. It didn't take me long for me to realize that I was the only one in the entire auditorium dressed in blue jeans.
A true iconoclast. I did have a nice tie on though.
The show was wonderful. They had obviously put a lot of time into the effort, and it certainly paid off. I especially enjoyed the Songsters. Clarence Orion was up on stage for both the chorus and the band (French horn), along with my old friends, Capt. and Mrs. Strickland (Ron & Pam), she looking as lovely as ever. Dr. Doctor was in the band He holds a position similar to that of Ed Reitz's at both the Canoga Park and Van Nuys A.R.C.s. His son, and several of his charming daughters were with him. He looked right at me when he introduced his son for a solo, but I doubt he recognized me.
Kevin, Marvin, and I sat in the first row. Snobbish Dennis went off to mingle with his Salvation Army cronies. He seemed to be friendly with Dr. Doctor's family, and introduced us to one of the doctors daughters after the show.
Mr. Vasquez, after becoming unlost, finally picked us up and returned us to the residence in time for "Married with Children."
Later, after I turned off the lights and the TV, I heard the rain begin again.

March 25 Monday Day 194

Dennis Smith knocked on my door shortly before 7:30. I got out of bed and opened it.
"Are we going to the dentist this morning?" he asked me. We had agreed to go to the U.S.C. Dental School today. He had a toothache, and I wanted to make an appointment. Dennis has never been there before and wanted me to help guide him through the bureaucratic bullshit.
I said, "Man, it's raining out there," in a truly wimpish fashion. It was true though. It was raining out there, and I did not relish the idea of getting soaked at the bus stop. However, "Hold on, I'll get ready and..."
"That's okay. We can go tomorrow."
"I have to work tomorrow."
"Well, I'll go tomorrow. That way I can leave at six."
I closed the door and went back to bed.
I got up at lunchtime.
Tuna fish.
I read a lot about caffeine today.
I had the distinct honor and pleasure of dining with two lovely women at dinnertime, Milda and Barbara Grothe... counselor type ladies. Milda had seen me writing earlier, and asked me what I was writing.
"A book?" she asked, in her cute little Lithuanian accent.
"Why yes, I think I am," I replied.
"Do you need an agent?" She was teasing me, in her cute little Lithuanian way.
"Who did you have in mind?" I asked.
"Ha, ha, ha. I was just kidding. What is your book about?"
I never know what to say when people ask me that. It's hard to explain all that I feel this account truly is, especially in the amount of time people will usually give me to explain.
I went over it briefly, and she did seem somewhat interested. I told her that since the book was about my first year in sobriety (if I do in fact make it that far. No fair turning to the back of this account to learn the final outcome, dear readers. For those with little patience and fortitude, I might be quite devious in hiding the true ending), and about what goes on around me, and about the people I meet, and that by extension she was now a part of, and in the book.
Which of course she is.
She looked at me, taken aback, then smiled. "Oh Rick, you're always putting me on."
Later I read about counseling chemically dependent individuals, while watching all of the stars arrive for the Academy Awards ceremony on television.
I didn't have any favorites in the running this year, so the awards show was particularly uninteresting for me. But there were some high points.
Madonna did a saucy little dance number for one of the songs featured in "Dick Tracy." It is amazing how a cheap looking blond, wiggling her butt, holds peoples attention. Or maybe it's not so amazing.
The clips taken from the past films (always a tribute to the editors) never fail to manifest a certain sense of nostalgia that can be quite touching.
The best acceptance speech came from the winner of the Best Screenplay award (Dances with Wolves," which also won Best Picture). "Stick to your dreams and never give up!"
Wonderful advice.
After the show a Barbara Walters special aired and I watched part of it. I saw the interview with Whoopi Goldberg (herself a recovering heroin addict, and winner of tonight's award for Best Supporting Actress in the film, "Ghost,"), and the Jeremy Irons interview (the Best Actor winner for his performance in "Reversal of Fortune"), but had to turn it off before Barbara got to the Mutant Teenage Ninja Turtles.
I can only stand so much.
By the way, Kathy Bates won the Best Actress Award for her portrayal of the Stephen King character, Annie Wilks, in the film, "Misery."
Very good.
I read a couple of chapters of "Beanfield War," then went to bed. For a while I listened to the sound of it not raining, then fell asleep.

March 26 Tuesday Day 195

I talked to Maggie and Major Foote this morning. They must not have remembered our last conversation because I had to explain what it was that I planned to do with my life all over again. I showed Maggie the labor market survey that Jill had given to me. She was suitably unimpressed. She wants me to call each of the prospective employers and basically get the same information that is on the survey. She wants me to ask them would they have a job for a person if that person had the right education, training, and background appropriate for the position. On its face it looks like a silly question. No, no, it is a silly question. Of course they would hire someone like that. Who wouldn't? Would the prospective employer rather go out and attempt to locate someone whose education, training, and background were inappropriate for the position?
It seems to me that the only real question might be if there were a position open which needed to be filled in the first place.
I told Maggie I would call these places.
If nothing else I think I impressed Maggie on how serious I am, and how stubborn I can be about sticking to my plans with, or without her help.
I also let her know that if for some reason I could not continue school, then I'd like to stay right here doing what I'm doing, rather than re-enter the job market.
At least I'll stay sober here.
Jill seemed like she was in a big hurry tonight. She rushed through everyone's weekly goals because the room needed to be used for another meeting. She got to me and asked, "Richard, all I have written down for your goals last week were to read and write?"
"Yes, I did that."
She looked at me kind of funny, "What do you write about?"
I briefly told her what it was I write about. Like Maggie earlier, Jill was suitably unimpressed.
Just like my mom.
Just like most everybody.
Just as they should be.
Except Russell Burke. He cares. At anytime during the day or night, I can count on Russell to come up to me, and say, "Hi! Hi! How ya doing? You're looking good. Everything's alright, okay, hi!"
Bless you Russell.

March 27 Wednesday Day 196

It was one of those mornings.
First off, because of my job I was forced to get out of bed before six o'clock. 6:00AM!
Then, when I got to work the Major came in and started hanging around. Now, as the administrator of this facility the Major has every right to do that, but by doing it it affords him the opportunity to look around and complain about things, which makes him a real pain in the ass for us desk guys. For example, this morning he noticed some cobwebs, way up in the corners of the atrium where no one can get to. He of course, wants them removed. He said we need new pool cues, and that I should get busy and price some. He wanted to get a new parrot to replace Noah (no mere bird could ever replace Noah), but he wanted all of the beneficiaries to pitch in and pay for it.
Fat chance.
He also caught one hapless individual using profane language while talking on the pay phone, and went off on him. He also began crying about the cigarette butts littering the walkway in front of the residence.
I believe he was in a bad mood. For one thing the reason he was over here was to greet all of the clinical directors from all of the A.R.C.s in California. They were having a little get together here today, and they were being late about it. The Major really doesn't like to wait around a whole lot. Second, the wife of the Major's boss was heading up the meeting, Mrs. Colonel Allen, and the Major was going to have to pretend that he was all happy to see her and everything.
Third, Mrs. Colonel Allen was late too.
One other reason the Major might not have been too chipper today was because yesterday he had an angiogram performed. Sticking a plastic tube down the old arteries would probably put anybody a little out of whack.
I was kept busy today, with one thing or another. No time for naps.
Tonight's chapel service was actually a memorial for Jan Skiecicz, who passed away on Monday. Jill came for the service and was even on time. We sat next to each other, and afterward she hung out at the desk handing out some of the photos that David had taken. She gave me three that were not used in the presentation. One was of me blinking.
While she was doing this we had a chance to talk to each other like normal human beings. She did not once ask me what my goals for next week were.
This was my first night of Graduate Group with George Plick. It was a good group. We discussed what was happening with us, what our plans for the future were, and how we were going to realize those dreams.
George got on Clarence Bliss's case for not having quit smoking. Good (like I should talk).
Later, while I was putting away the counseling books, one of them accidentally opened to my folder. To make sure it was mine, and in its proper place, I skimmed through it.
Jill wrote, "continues to work on self-improvement." That's true. Everyday I'm sober is an improvement.
George wrote, "has talked to Voc Rehab, working on getting through one day at a time." That's true as well.
I am always tempted in times like these to write my own entries. Let's say I copied George's handwriting, and wrote, "Rick was quiet and distant throughout group. Asked me if he could talk to me privately afterwards. Said he had been sick and depressed all week. Even suicidal. Had a crazed, glazy look in his eyes. Pulled a gun and said everything would be alright now. He came behind me and put the gun to my head and told me to write all of this down. He cocked the gun--Oh No!..." then splatter the paper with tomato paste.
I'm very sick, no doubt about it.

March 28 Thursday Day 197

I over slept this morning. When I looked at one of my clocks it said 5:58. That gave me two minutes to shave, brush my teeth, shower, and get dressed for work.
I made it to work with thirty seconds to spare. I skipped breakfast, and wrote.
I kept putting off doing my labor market survey. I don't know why. I feel uncomfortable calling people and bothering them in this fashion. If I knew them personally I'd feel more comfortable about wasting their time.
I did have time to do my laundry, and take a short nap.
John Walters, the new book man, brought over a box of books for the library, and I found two good ones. "On the Beach," by Neville Shute (his most popular work, although I prefer "A Town Like Alice"), and "Mystery," by Peter Struab. I spent the afternoon reading the drug counseling book that Richard had loaned to me, and the Shute book.
Most of the counselors scheduled to appear today called in sick, or had car trouble, so there wasn't anyone around to annoy, which really annoyed me, but gave me more time to read.
Dennis Smith went to the dentist today to have a tooth pulled. He was very anxious about it. He told me he had had a bad experience visiting the dentist once when he was much younger. I tried my best to reassure him.
"Don't worry, Dennis. Everything will be just fine. You tell the demon... I mean the dentist... which tooth it is, and after they finish poking it with one of those long, sharp, pointy probes for awhile, he'll pull that sucker right on out. Make extra sure he's got the right one though!"
When he regained his color he left for the bus stop. He returned a little after 1:00, minus one tooth, and very proud of himself that he hadn't made a scene in the dentist office.
We were all very proud of him too.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Are Obama And The Democrats Really Working For The Republicans? 2

My lovely case manager, Erin, came to work Tuesday morning despite it being Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day in the U.K.!). I felt SRHT would surely have taken the last day of Mardi Gras off, the partying bastards that they are.
In honor of her return to work I made her a nice breakfast. She had her choice of a multitude of delicacies and requested two eggs (over easy), with hash browns and maple sausage. For conformity's sake, I had the same thing. She made some Masala chai (spiced) tea in the kitchen's microwave while texting. My neighbor Daryl and I watched her as we prepared our various breakfasts.
"Distracted microwaving," I said.
"Yup!" Daryl agreed.
"What?" Erin looked up.
"See what I mean... she's in another world," I observed.
"Yes," Daryl said. "That thing could start arching any minute..."
"Blow up..."
"Take our heads clean off..."
"Then Erin goes back to New Jersey like nothing happened," Daryl concluded.
"Stop it," Erin exclaimed. "I'm not distracted."
Be that as it may, we managed to make it through that breakfast without any explosions, that day and yesterday at the Cooking Club, where we had some more breakfast delights, burritos filled with scrambled eggs (I was put in charge of the scrambling... I don't know why), and your choice of sauteed onions and peppers, crumbled bacon, cheese (cheddar), sour cream, sliced avocados, and salsa. With hash browns and orange juice. Some opted to put their hash browns within the burritos, I did not.
Enough avocado pieces were left over that Paul made some impromptu guacamole. There was a lot of everything left over actually, so much so that I'm going to enjoy some nice left over scrambled eggs and cheese in a little while (6:57AM real time as I write this morning), before I head out to Westwood to the Endocrinology Clinic at the VA, to have my endrocrines filed down.
So, what's in the news.
The economic downturn is continuing to make itself felt, and in most situations the governments response always seems to be the same... stick it to the poor, the least able to afford extra expenses, like the disabled, seniors, and school kids.
Yesterday I received a letter from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation informing me of proposed rate hikes and discontinuance of some forms of service, like the Cityride monthly bus passes that I use, effectively increasing my transportation costs 1,300%, all the way up to $14 a month. Maybe I should buy a moped.
This morning I've read of state medicaid cuts in services, diminishing a program that already under pays doctors so much that many don't see these patients at all, which are mostly low income children, disabled adults, and facilitated living patients.
Premiums for Medicare Advantage are said to be increasing 14%. Politicians are blaming the private insurance companies for the increases, and these companies aren't doing anything to further their causes, Anthem Blue Cross requesting a 39% increase for private health insurance plans in California (I even participated in a protest march Wednesday at Anthem's downtown offices, in my case to highlight the need for insurance reform in general. Anthem, by the way, is a subsidiary of my former employer, Wellpoint), as are many others across the nation. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is wondering why these increases are necessary considering the five largest insurers already experiencing record profits (12.2 billion last year).
One man in Texas got so upset with the IRS yesterday he set his own house on fire, then flew his private plane into an office building which housed some Internal Revenue Service offices.
I prefer marching as a form of protest.
Another guy bulldozed his own home before the banks could foreclose on it, and is considering doing the same for his business as well (which the IRS wants). Much smarter to bulldoze than to set on fire. No arson involved.
Dick Cheney admitted to war crimes on Sunday in an interview with ABC News. "I was a big supporter of water-boarding," he said.
We know water-boarding occurred under the Bush/Cheney watch, and we've prosecuted Japanese prison-camp officers and guards after World War II for the use of water-boarding, and convicted them of torture that clearly violated the rules of war. Seitara Hata was just one Japanese soldier charged with a war crime for water-boarding; Hatara was sentenced to 25 years hard labor.
So what's up Attorney General Holder? Why aren't you investigating the previous administration for clear crimes of war, some that senior officials freely admit to?
So what's up Barack? Why aren't you openly asking for such an investigation?
Who are you guys really working for?
"Change we can believe in," our President's slogan proclaimed. He also said there was only one set of laws, and that no one was above the law.
But clearly this does not seem to be true. It would appear that there is one set of laws for people like me, who will wind up in our nice Twin Towers facility (jail) for stealing as much a pack of gum from a supermarket, and another set of laws, or more correctly, a set of "Stay Out Of Jail Free Cards" for ex-Presidents and their senior officials whose crimes if investigated would lead back to those very ex-Presidents.
Thats not change, that's the same old crap we've seen from the Oval Office since Ford pardoned Nixon. Apparently it's okay to lie yourself into unnecessary wars, torture prisoners, and cause the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians if you're high enough in the American political structure.
I'm sorry Barack, I'm not interested in what you think is "productive," I'm interested in what's right and just. Pure and simple.
The conduct of the wars themselves, 98,000 soldiers still in Iraq, and escalation of forces in Afghanistan, these are continuations of the policies of the Bush administration.
Continued rendition, Guantanamo Bay still open, government secrecy and continued spying on Americans.
As I've said in the first post on this subject, I sincerely doubt that Obama is working for the Republicans, but he makes it easy for me to make a case that he does. Too freaking easy.
Granted, we are drawing down in Iraq, and hopefully will be out of there by next year (so why the huge embassy, the largest in the world?), and we've recently made a great deal of progress in Afghanistan as far capturing top members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. And finally, finally members of the Senate are pressing Harry Reid to use reconciliation to pass a health care reform bill that includes a public option, and Senator Reid has just signaled through his office that he is willing to go along.
We shall see.
Speaking about Dick.
Our former Vice President made an appearance yesterday at the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC), and was hailed by this bunch of delusional bastards as a true American hero, rather than the traitorous bastard he really is.
I was glad to hear what he had to say though, which was he thought the Republicans would have a great 2010, and that Barack Obama will be a one term President.
Considering Dick Cheney's track record, that he was wrong about the war in Iraq, about WMD's, and Saddam's ties to Al Qaeda, about torture, and wrong about practically everything else, his two predictions of the future come as a rare comfort to me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Salvation Diary 19

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

March 19 Tuesday Day 188

Up early for work. I hadn't slept very well the night before, but I wasn't tired.
Work went by quickly. I had a lot of energy today, and I kept myself busy doing some writing and running urine tests.
Richard, my counselor, gave me a new book to read. "Essentials of Chemical Dependency Counseling," by Gary Lawson, Don Ellis, and P. Clayton Rivers. I suspect it deals with counseling chemical dependents.
Mr. Vasquez and Ed Reitz went to the hospital shortly after lunch to move Jan Skiecicz to another facility. They had not returned by the end of my shift, so I started pulling some overtime. Ernie Sens called to find out if Robert was aware there was a 2:30 safety meeting scheduled for today. I told Ernie that it may have slipped his mind, and that he wasn't here anyway. Ernie said that he needed a representative from the residence, and that I should fill in for Robert. I promptly found myself in the boardroom with the Major, Ernie, Pattie Orion, Frank Corona, and Ron Collins. Most of what was discussed had nothing to do with the residence, so my major responsibility at this meeting was to stay awake and look alert. Robert showed up at about fifteen minutes into the session, after which, I felt the responsibility to stay awake was now his. I then felt free to doze, keeping my head in a perpetual nodding motion, as if agreeing with everything that was being said.
Don't get me wrong. Safety is very important.
After the meeting I went to my room and changed clothes. I then went out to the front parking lot and sat on one of the benches while reading about alternative cosmological models, and watching three little girls playing by the trees by the walkway which leads to the front door. I admire their youth and innocence. I do not envy it.
One of the little girls had just finished calling Bill Rausemplat a "Pendejo," (which according to John Nichols, "translated loosely means, 'idiot,' or 'fool,'-- or translated more literally means, 'pubic hair.'") then I returned to the lobby to write before Jill's group.
She picked me out to start tonight. I let her know that I had continued to write throughout the week, gone to the V.A., gone to the dentist, and stopped smoking. Everyone in the room chirped, "Again!"
Jill said that I had made it sound like it was easy to quit. I insisted that it wasn't, that it was very, very hard.
She gave me a job market projection sheet for substance abuse counselors. This was part of what Maggie required. It was surprising that Jill gave this to me even though she had said she would two weeks ago. She is a busy lady and has a hard enough time remembering my name, let alone any extracurricular activities.
This should impress Maggie, and shut her up for a while.
The group ran a little long. We kind of hurried through the goals for next week. Jill looked at me and asked, "And what are your goals for next week, Tom?"
I'm going to have to think seriously about continuing on with Jill. I mean really! After three of four months the least you could hope from your counselor is for them to remember your name. Especially when you're hopelessly in love with them. Maybe I should have her call me Rick, instead of Richard. It should be easier to memorize. Less syllables.
Anyway I went upstairs, had a cigarette, then went to bed.

March 20 Wednesday Day 189

Today is the Vernal Equinox, the "first point of Aries," the beginning of Spring in the northern hemisphere. Today's day and night are of equal length in all parts of the world.
Wolf woke me at five. I got up at five forty-five and showered and dressed for work. After thumbing through the Encyclopedia Britannica, I went downstairs and was at work by six. I gave Kevin Rockoff the traditional deskman greeting: "Hello my fellow laid-back coffee drinking brother," while simultaneously initiating a mutual over-head, back-handed slap. The above greeting seems to be more effective and meaningful if uttered with a slight Jamaican accent.
People kept blaming me for all of their problems this morning. Roger Collins thought it was my fault that nobody would give him a ride to the hospital. I tried to explain to him that after seven o'clock I had nothing to do with transportation. That it was Frank Corona's department. That was why they had given him the title of "Director of Transportation." Roger didn't care about all that. He said he couldn't take the bus because it was raining. He didn't want to get his stinky, rotting, putrescent leg wet, and felt, due to the weather, it was my responsibility to get him to his doctor.
The rain stopped before I took the morning paperwork across the street, and resumed right after I returned to the residence. This type of thing happens to me a lot. At movie theaters especially. No matter how late I may be, only after I have found a suitable seat, am comfortably situated in it, and have taken my first bite of sweet, hot-buttered salty popcorn, will the film begin. Richard, my counselor says this happens to him quite a bit. We both attribute this to both of us being in tune with our respective higher powers.
We had to write up Reuben Smith (half of the famous Zulu Brothers) last week for never making his bed. The good folks at the Gratuity Board meeting decided to take away $5.00, or 25% of his weekly pay for one week. Accordingly his bed looked very nice today. The best in the residence actually. I would have given him the Best Bed Award, but Ed Reitz didn't think it would be appropriate and we would be sending him the wrong message if we did.
I took a little nap after lunch. When I came back down at 2:30, Eddie Gillespie reported, "I vacuumed the rug and cleaned the windows while Clarence just sat there and read the paper."
Clarence Bliss looked up from his paper at me, then at Eddie, "Fuck you Gillespie. I hope your horse loses."
These guys are both over sixty years old. So much for graceful maturity.

A Marine joke, by Eddie Gillespie: On a flight to Boston, a Marine PFC sitting in first class was asked by the young stewardess if he would care for some coffee.
"I don't want any fucking coffee!" was his reply.
The young lady was clearly shocked at such rude behavior. She thought the gentleman had somehow misunderstood her question, and determined to fulfill her duty, she tried again a short time later.
"You can take that coffee and stick it up your ass!"
Now hurt and offended, the stewardess noticed a Marine Captain sitting nearby and tried to enlist his aid. She asked him to observe the private's response when she tried yet again.
After receiving the usual scathing retort, she looked at the Captain with a see-what-I-mean expression on her pretty face.
"Well don't give the son-of-a -bitch any fucking coffee, you meddling bow-legged whore!"

Oh my, that was so disrespectful. I in fact would like to salute the fine job our flight attendants do on a daily basis. Fine job. Remember, that was Eddie's joke, not mine. If I had anything to say about it, it wouldn't even appear here.
And what can you do with Marines? They're just so irrepressible.
We experienced hail today. Great showers of gravel size ice came raining down.
I was safe inside, of course.
Mrs. Johnson brought us at the desk a nice Easter basket, with an Easter Egg Tree in it... and a stuffed bunny.
Very nice.
In chapel, I was sitting in the last row with Clarence Bliss when Ed Reitz announced there were three beneficiaries eligible for program graduation certificates, but only one was present at the time. The other two were either at work (Rico Montgomery), half of the infamous Zulu Brothers, or at school (Anthony Rutherford). I knew that I was eligible, and that I was there. Clarence looked at me as he heard me groan.
After Ed announced my name, I walked up from the back to where Major Johnson was standing holding my certificate. There was actual applause.
"Rick is a man of few words," the Major said, "and tonight we're going to give him the chance to say both of them." The Major was referring to the fact that I have never given a testimony during services.
"Really though," he continued, "congratulations Rick. You've done a great job in the last six months. I'm sure that those of you who feel the need at times can go to Rick for advice when you feel it necessary to talk to someone about the problems currently facing you. I'm sure he'll be happy to help, if he can."
I nodded my head in an up and down manner.
"Keep up the good work Rick, and thanks once again." I gave the Major my thanks and returned to my seat. More Applause.
After chapel the Major congratulated me once again on the outstanding job I was doing.
It's very nice to be appreciated, and I do respect the Major (even though he did threaten me with physical violence once), he has an extremely difficult job here, and I'm sure he's an outstanding person and all. I like his wife too. He is ultimately my real boss, but I don't really know the man, and I don't deal with him on a day to day basis. I couldn't help but wonder how much more the praise would have meant coming from Robert Vasquez.
Robert being Robert, was no where around.
Tonight was also my last night of the Transition Group with George Plick. I had graduated from it. I had graduated right on up to Graduate Group with George Plick.
I think you have to die or something to get out of that one.
Anyway, during the group, I stopped listening to George talking about how our minds must dictate our actions rather than our emotions, and began to realize that I have become comfortable with the notion of not living up to the expectations of others, even my own. I' not saying that I do not care of what others think of me. I do. Everybody does, no matter what they say. I was thinking specifically about returning to school, and being anxious about it. I realized I needed to relax when I returned, and just do the best I could. I must give myself permission to fail occasionally and accept that it is within my nature (being a human type person) to make mistakes, and that I can learn in my own way the knowledge that I can utilize to my best advantage. I know I should not do poorly in school, and probably will in fact do well, especially for a person with a twenty year history of drug induced stupor... plus an organic brain syndrome to boot! I also became aware of how I am applying this acceptance to other aspects of my life, and I felt comfortable about feeling comfortable with that.
We had a new female type counselor person here tonight. Her name is Cathy, a demur brunette, with a pleasant figure, and I should say somewhere in her mid-twenties. However I did not actually see her face as she was walking away from me when I first noticed her. I suppose I should at least get a good look at her and maybe talk to her once or twice before I go to all of the trouble of falling in love with her.
You can't be too careful these days.
Near the end of the shift I walked outside and gazed up at the starry cloud-framed sky, and it was beautiful.

March 21 Thursday Day 190

Another nice and early 5AM start on the day. Not much happened compared to yesterday.
I gave Rockoff the traditional Deskman greeting, then began to write. I wrote for most of the morning, whenever people were not interrupting me, asking me for insulin and stuff like that.
I did my laundry and took a nap.
Pretty fast paced I admit. I read a lot about drug counseling and reexamined my motives for entering that field.
I would like to help other alcoholics and drug addicts who really want to stop drinking and drugging, and don't know how. I want to try and help those who aren't quite sure if they want to stop, but suspect they have a big problem. I want to help them learn how to really want to stop. And I want to help people learn about their defense mechanisms, how they can continue to keep you sick for a long time. While doing all that, and by doing all of that, I hope to help myself keep sober, and if I'm being paid for it I can continue to go to school. Continue to study psychology, sociology; how the brain works, i.e., the mind.
I do not perceive within myself the desire to have power over others, or wish to escape feelings of guilt, or make a lot of money. I believe these perceptions to be sincere, and my motives satisfactory.
Very nice.
Charles Parsons, the Transition House manager, was caught with alcohol on his breath today and has now moved back in with us. Dorm 4, bed C.
John Ritchie and Ray Hunt (who had been thrown out of the residence, but still worked in dispatch) quit their jobs across the street, and are said to be headed to Vegas.
The men were relatively well behaved tonight, going to their meetings on time. And everyone made it back by curfew, including Art Svensk.
I had earlier scored a copy of Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End," and reread that book until 2:30 in the morning. Then I slept, dreaming of the Overlord's giant ship projections and mashed potatoes.

March 22 Friday Day 191

I had intended to get and go to the 7:30 Big Book study meeting at Union Station, but had to change those plans due to lack of motivation. I slept until lunchtime.
After lunch I practiced various forms of advanced yoga techniques while reading some of "The Milagro Beanfield War," "Childhood's End," "The Bible," and the "Twenty Four Hour a Day" book. After which I wrote, then got ready for work.
Mr. Vasquez stuck me with handing out the gratuities again. But after dinner it was kind of slow, an even keel sort of night. I gave the New Client Orientation, and put up the damn bar in the thrift store parking lot, and besides from selling a few canteen cards and handing out straggler's gratuities, my evening was fairly free.
I had time to read, read about drugs.
I have often thought, along with many others, that the simplest way to crush the black-market in drugs would be to legalize them. Addicts who given the choice between securing their supply of the drug they are addicted to from government or private industry at low cost; or paying the high prices the black-market demands, would choose the former. Economics 101. There would soon be no black-market. The demand for its products would not exist. The addicts lifestyle (that famous "drug seeking behavior," or criminal patterns needed in order to purchase drugs) would decrease substantially. And added revenue from the taxation of the now legal substances would be one of the benefits to this country.
Nothing would please me more than to pull the rug from underneath the drug lords.
Of course, much like the bootleggers of Prohibition days, the drug suppliers of today would still be armed with nation threatening amounts of cash to do with as they please. The locating of these ill gotten gains, it seems to me, to be an ideal project for our law enforcement agencies to be concerning themselves with. Much better then the hopeless task they have currently set for themselves (or the politicians have set for them), attempting to stop the importation of drugs.
And I do understand that supporting the legalization issue is tantamount to political suicide. I am not interested in politics though, or furthering politician's careers.
Human life interests me. The negation of pain, misery, degradation, and torment interest me very much.

March 23 Saturday Day 192

I slept in again I'm afraid. I knew they would be having chicken patties for lunch, and I like chicken patties... so I got up to eat.
Afterwards I returned to my lonely, Elviraless room, and read. I read from "The Brief History of Time," book, a very depressing part. I used to not have an opinion regarding the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but now I think it's a real bitch. The way Hawkins explains it, or rather the way I understand what he's trying to say, life will not be feasible in ten billion years or so when the universe starts to collapse in on itself (if indeed that is to be it's fate). Something to do with time being equal to distance in space, and moving backwards toward The Big Crunch. Of course life would end in The Big Crunch anyway, but at the end of it all when everything gets squashed. I had at least thought we would have all of that contraction time (10 to 20 billion years) to play around in. It just goes to show... it's always something.
Worry, worry, worry.
I completed my work as fast as possible so I could write most of the night. Edward Taylor, who had recently escaped the jaws of death due to medical difficulties, did not return for curfew this evening. If he starts, or has already started using again, it will most likely finish him off.
Even armed with that kind of self knowledge it isn't enough to make a lot of us stop using.
I wish him well.