Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Salvation Diary 26

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

April 23 Tuesday Day 223

I can be fast when I want to.
Wolf woke me at 4:00, and I switched on the T.V. just in time to witness James Cagney happily excepting his first gun in "Public Enemy." I closed my eyes for a second, and when I opened them it was 5:45. After putting them back in their sockets I raced to the bathroom, shaved, showered, and dressed, and was at work by 6:00.
Good thing too. Robert was up and getting ready to pick up the day's donuts. It's never good to let your boss know when you're late.
Robert would be running around the residence for most of the day, as we're still not sure if we're going to be inspected or not.
Mrs. Col. Johnson was now in the downstairs apartment, her husband in the hospital. Major Johnson told us at lunch that she and her son would be taking the Col. up north somewhere, to their home later in the day, which is exactly what they did.
We heard rumors that the inspection has been canceled, been postponed, going to be conducted By Col. Allen (Major Johnson's boss), or just by Major Johnson himself. We don't really know what's happening, and to tell you the truth I'm getting pretty sick and tired of the whole thing. It's been a long time since I've been required to stand an inspection, and I didn't like it then either.
Our ADx urine analyzer is acting silly. I had one lonely urine sample to run, but the machine would not let me do it. It kept telling me that the R boom would not home. That of course meant that the boom arm, which positions the probe, which in turn draws the urine to be sampled, deposits it into the mixing cartridge, dilutes it, transfer the heady mixture into a glass tube or cuvette where the sample will be read via polarized light measuring the rotation speed of specific molecules by the photometer, was not working properly. I checked the troubleshooting section in the operators manual and could find nothing that would cause this malfunction to occur.
I was perplexed!
As I later ran a photocheck, which does not require the use of the boom, the machine told me by printout that there was no carousel in it, when in fact there was. I know there was. I had put it in there.
As I said, it was acting silly.
I would have called Abbott Labs 800 number to discuss the situation with their people in Dallas, but at that time Jack Crossley began shampooing the carpet right outside the Sample Room's door, and was making such a racket that I would not have been able to hear anybody on the phone.
I would let Robert deal with it.
Although I spent most of the evening upstairs in my room playing with my computer, I did manage to see Jill. I was sitting in the canteen with Dennis Smith, eating a nice cheeseburger. Denis was talking about his first meeting with Maggie Harbottle and Major Foote. Dennis had the same reaction that I had, the same frustrations. Maggie wants him to do anything but what it is that he wants to do. Anyway, Jill came in and sat with one of her clients. She took a box of Trivial Pursuit questions from the recreation cabinet (obviously a psychological counselor type ploy used to draw information from her subject), and began asking her client questions. Without being asked Dennis and I involved ourselves.
I hate Trivial Pursuit. Everybody does. Except Jeopardy contestants, and pretty marriage and family counseling type students.
Jill's a nice lady. It bothers me that I don't have, nor probably never will have, a basis to talk to her in a manner other than a superficial one.
That's the way it is sometimes. You like someone, and want to get to know them, and there just never seems to be the time or opportunity to do so. I know I say I'm in love with her and all, and in a way I am, but really all I'd like to do is find out if she could be a friend. And that will probably never happen. It would be too threatening for her I'm afraid.

April 24 Wednesday Day 224

I felt absolutely lousy this morning, like I had a hangover or something. Maybe I felt that way because I hadn't gotten enough sleep. But usually when I don't sleep much I just feel tired for a little while in the morning, not bad.
It seems (because you notice it more) that the best time for everything to go wrong, or fall apart, is when you're not feeling up to par.
Ron Collins came into my office before morning devotions to tell me there was a sick person in the upstairs bathroom. We went together to take a look and found Vernon Smith (a fellow Steinbeck fan) clutching his head in apparent agony. He was disoriented, and could barely walk. We took him to his dorm so he could lie down, then I went for help. Charles Parsons came from the warehouse to drive him to U.S.C. Medical.
Vernon came back to us later in the day, and the story I eventually got out of him (he was still pretty messed up) was that he had had a reaction to medication he was taking, causing severe cramps to the muscles of his neck and back. U.S.C. gave him more pills to take, and sent him back to us.
Now certain people around here are afraid of catching spiral meningitis.
About five others complained of illness (two couldn't make it out of bed) and received bed rest. Reuben Perez was one of them. At ten thirty he left the residence saying he was going to see a doctor. He is one of our diabetics. Two days ago he was walking around with uncontrollable shakes and had gone to Huntington and been given something for it. Today he went all the way to Olive View (another county run facility) in Sylmar, north of the San Fernando Valley. That's where he gets his insulin from, and all of his medical records are located there. It's about a three hour bus ride from Pasadena though. At 8:30PM he called and said he was still waiting to be seen by a doctor. He was worried about being A.W.O.L., and that he might get into trouble considering he had not bothered to get a day pass to begin with. In any case, he would be staying overnight in Sylmar.
Mr. Vasquez got up early to pick up the donuts, and at morning devotions he made this now famous announcement outlining the great towel resolution.
Let's go back in time for a moment. About a year ago, Col Allen ordered all the A.R.C.s under his command to provide fresh laundered towels, each and every day, to all the residents. A reasonable request one might say. Instead of each man having his own towel issued to him, or for that matter, his personal towel from home, the Colonel wanted a pile of clean towels placed in the shower areas each morning so the men could pick one up upon showering, then throw it in a hamper to be washed after use. This strategy completely eliminated the messy wet towel in the dorm locker syndrome. The other A.R.C.s had implemented this plan months ago. Mr. Vasquez just hadn't gotten around to it yet.
Robert had anticipated problems with the new system. Indeed, there are certain drawbacks to the plan. The laundry man's work day would be twice as long with the added burden of at least 106 towels to wash 7 days a week. The washers and dryers were not made for this type of use (they were in fact being used constantly already by the men doing their laundry). Also, the boys had a tendency to use more than one towel (one to dry their hands, one to dry their feet, one to use as a bath mat, on and on), insuring there were never enough clean towels for everyone.
It would be quite a headache.
The private towel system was working just fine. Major Johnson never inspected upstairs, and in fact thought that Col Allen's order had already been carried out months ago.
If the inspection had not been postponed because of Col. Johnson's illness we would have been caught with our pants down, or our towels awry, if you will. So Robert announced the new plan to the men this morning, to a multitude of grumbles, mumbles, and groans. Possibly a few genuine moans in there as well. The most asked question was what if I have my own towel from home? Can't I use that, and wash it myself? No. No. No. Robert would say. If they had their own personal towel, they were to be put in a plastic bag and put at the bottom of their locker where he couldn't find it easily. Or take it back home. Any wet, or dirty towels found in a locker during the work day would result in a couple of hours of extra duty on Saturday morning for that individual.
More grumbles, mumbles, and groans.
Before leaving the building Robert told me he would be back later in the day to get the new towels ready.
He never came back!
Given its momentum, this idea should fizzle out all together in a week or two. At least until the next inspection, or until Robert retires.
Richard, my counselor came in, and it was his day to talk to me. I forced myself to do something I had put off for two weeks now. My Fifth Step.
This is the Step most people are reluctant to take because it requires one to lay one's self out completely open to another individual, and action none of us have any natural inclination to do. Especially us alcoholics and drug addicts. We like to hide. It took only 45 minutes to tell him the whole sordid tale.
"Admitted to God, to Ourselves, and Another Human Being, the Exact Nature of our Wrongs." Pretty scary. Richard qualified as a human being. I'd already admitted the exact nature of my wrongs to God and myself while writing my Fourth Step, along with numerous times in the past when I have reminiscenced over various mistakes and triumphs I have made and experienced. Now I feel I may move on to Step Six.
I had thought I would feel relieved when I had finished with Richard, and I did in a way. I was definitely glad I had done it, and that it was over. I still felt bad though. And tired.
The ADx man got here at dinner time. I had given him ambiguous instructions on how to get here, so he had probably gotten lost once or twice on the way over. He looked the machine over, asked me what had happened to it, said he needed some parts and would return tomorrow.
Chapel went well. Thank God. It was the only thing that did today.
Matt Moreth dropped by looking for Richard Bennett. He seemed troubled, and I asked him what the problem was.
"I whe whe whe whe whe went, ou ou out la last night. A a a an an an and, got, pla pla pla pla er pla pla pla pla plas plas plas wh pla pla plas plastered."
I told him not to let it get him down, and to have a cup of coffee while he waited. He grabbed the coffee, went out the front door, and disappeared.
I know exactly what he's going through. I hope to God he comes back. I just learned from Paul Wisely that Matt's wife is expecting a child. Matt needs to end his relapse before things get out of hand.
Romy, Ben Driscoll's counselor, came to my office. He told me he thought that a lot of Ben's problems had started in his youth. Very Freudian. Ben told him, in his typical disorientated and round about fashion, that he had been abused physically, and that his father had had access to thorazine, and used it to shut his children up.
There are monsters in this world. They are real.
Throughout this hectic day I did manage to get a little writing done.
And to end on a happy note, I fell in love. With Kathy, our new counselor. I found out she is a recovering alcoholic or addict, recovering something at least, just like me. 3 years sober. I accidentally heard her talking to Bill Rauschemplat. She gives me the impression of being a very sincere and dedicated individual, very serious about what she does, in tune with reality, meaning that she is aware of the hazards recovering counselors face (burnout, relapse, stuff like that), hard working, conscientious, and has the ability to laugh with others, and at herself. All wrapped up in a cute little brunette package.
I think this is a charming way for a young girl to be. Recovering or not.
Too bad she's married.
At least I got the impression that she's married. I shall have to investigate.

April 25 Thursday Day 225

I looked at my clock. It was 6:50. I closed my eyes, thinking it must be my day off. Then I though, no, it's not my day off, and shot out of bed, cursing Pandolfi, Rockoff, Saddam Hussein, and any other foreign sounding people.
As my velocity approached close to that of light, time dilation occurred. For me it appeared that I only spent 1 minute, 38 seconds, shaving, showering, and dressing. To a stationary observer, 12 minutes, 42 seconds elapsed before I was ready for work. I didn't have time to worry about gaining infinite mass.
Just I reached for my door knob, Mr. Vasquez knocked.
He looked at me with a slow smile. "You alright, Joyce?"
"Yeah, I'm alright. I just woke up ten minutes ago."
"Alarm didn't go off, or something? Well, that's alright. No big thing. About Perez..."
He went on to tell me what to do about Reuben Perez, who had been transfered to High Desert Hospital, in Lancaster, suffering with gall stones and a liver infection.
And so my day began. I felt a lot better than I had yesterday. Maybe the extra unauthorized sleep helped. And knowing that I didn't have to work all day tomorrow helped.
I kept myself as busy as possible and the time flew by. I wrote a lot in the morning, but barely had time to read.
I met Harold Eversley and Carlos Noble in the parking lot after dropping off the morning paperwork.
Harold stretched out his long arm, supporting a huge smile, saying, "Gee, it sure feels good now that I have a full years sobriety."
"Hey Harold," I said, "that's great! Fantastic. Congratulations." We shook hands.
Miracles exist, they are real. Harold is a recovering crack addict. He gives me, and everyone else around here a lot of hope for our own futures.
The lovely Mrs. Strickland was inside at the desk. She had come over from Canoga Park to help Mrs. Johnson with some project. I didn't say anything to her, and I don't believe she recognized me. She didn't say anything if she did.
The Pasadena A.R.C. is in the midst of an opossum attack. They're all over the place. They just walk around, keep to themselves, look us over with big opossum eyes.
The ADx man spent most of the afternoon here. He claims to have replaced a broken thermoster module, whatever that is, and that everything is now working properly.
But as I ran some samples I started to get some peculiar readings, and it began to eat up my reagents. So I stopped fooling with it.
I was talking to Eugene White later in my office. He was telling me of the frustrations he was experiencing in the program. He doesn't think that everybody is serious enough about staying sober, and this causes him distress affecting his own program.
I tried to remind him that probably 50% of more of the guys here were using this place for reasons other than to learn how to stay sober, and that he should not let that interfere with what he was doing to try to get better. Outside, in the real world, I told him, most people won't be overly concerned with maintaining their sobriety. That's why A.A. is so important.
We talked about this and that for about twenty minutes. I hope he left my office feeling a little better. I know I did.
I heard a scratching at my window and turned in my chair to see two great big, stupid, opossum eyes looking inquiringly at me. We stared at each other for a few moments, trying to bridge the gap evolution had placed between us. I watched as it turned and slowly lumbered away.

April 26 Friday Day 226

I slept in until ten. It felt good, but I was having disturbing dreams again, so once I woke I stayed awake.
I believe I dreamed that I stabbed someone in the eye who was asleep or dead, and walked away as if nothing happened. I hoped that no would notice and that no one would bother me about it. I remember feeling remorse afterwards, wishing that it had never happened.
How weird.
After lunch I tried to write in the lobby but there was too much activity going on there, and Rockoff kept wanting me to fill in for him while he roamed around.
About twelve of the guys had been selected to go on a camping trip to Camp Craig, near Malibu. They used to film the exterior shots of the television show "M.A.S.H." close by.
Kevin Rockoff was going, but had neglected to find somebody to finish his shift.
So I got volunteered.

April 27 Saturday Day 227

I slept in again until lunch time. Then I went to the park and laid out in the glorious sun, while listening to rock and roll on the radio. Old Beatles songs and Jethro Tull.
I exercised a little when I returned, read in my lonely room, and got ready for work.
I had not smoked all day today, preparing for my Sixth Step, but during my first half an hour or so at work, I got so irritable and snappy at everybody (I even started yelling at Frank Corona over the telephone), I thought it best to break down, go to the store and buy some cigarettes before I either got fired or killed.
Around 6:30, as I went to put up the damn bar in the thrift store parking lot, I noticed Eddie Acuna and Hobart Rodgers sitting at the wall at the far end. Eddie called me over and told me they had talked to Clarence Orion, and he had told them to come back in the program on Monday. He asked me for a couple of dollars to hold them until then. They reeked of booze. I asked them if they had seen Gillespie. They had seen him just that morning. He had stopped drinking and gotten into detox.
I didn't give them any money. I instead told them to follow me back to the residence where I gave them some jelly donuts, and asked them to do themselves a favor and get here early Monday morning.
I wrote for most of the evening. Everything went pretty smoothly until Art Martinez came in at 11:57, three minutes before curfew, and blew a .05. I had to ask he to leave.
I wish him well.

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