Thursday, April 29, 2010

Salvation Diary 28

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

May 2 Thursday Day 232

...a nuclear reactor control room, along with Jack Lemon and Jane Fonda. "The China Syndrome," being this morning's movie.
I had lots of energy (please excuse the unintended pun), and was still feeling good.
But that would change.
I got to work early and got some writing done.
At breakfast Jack Crossley sat at my table and told me that while job hunting yesterday he had felt like getting drunk. He has fourteen months of sobriety so I asked him what he did about it, hoping that he didn't give in to the urge.
"I uuh, stopped off at a A.A. meeting in Glendale. That's why I didn't get back until almost ten last night. Umm, uuh, they made me lead the meeting," he added with a shy grin.
To get Jack Crossley to lead an A.A. meeting, a man so withdrawn he easily manages to isolate himself in a house full of 100 men, is no small thing.
I asked him if he had drank.
"Good for you, Jack. I'm glad you told me this. It makes me feel better. It helps me."
Last night the L.A. Center gave me a call and let me know that one of our trucks had been spotted in Highland Park making a drop off. They provided me with the vehicle's license plate number.
We only had one truck out the night before, The Night Crawler, driven by John Jimenez, with Darrell Sipp as his helper. Highland Park is way out of our service area, and our trucks do not drop things off, they're out there to pick things up.
Something was afoot.
When the Night Crawler returned last night I checked the License plate. The number L.A. had given me was very close to John's truck, Red Shield 21. Not exact, but close, too close to be a coincidence.
I liked both John and Darrell. John is a quiet guy, easy to get along with, who has always impressed me as being very serious about his program and wanting to stay sober. Thirty years old, an intelligent man with a wife and two children. He is well liked around here. He had just been made an employee because Ernie was short on drivers, and had been helping Robert with the morning donut runs. He hadn't even finished his 24 weeks of mandatory meetings.
So I was very surprised to get this report.
I had to tell Frank Corona about the call. It's my job, and I can't let my personal likes and dislikes interfere with that job, although I sometimes do. Besides, L.A. would probably call back, and then there would be questions about why I hadn't passed on the information, if in fact I hadn't.
They later fired John for making an unauthorized stop.
He came to the residence to pack his stuff and talked to me about it.
"I made a stop in Highland Park to see my mom," he told me.
The only reason that had come to mind for making an unauthorized stop would be to steel stuff.
Just like Larry and I did on the second day I was here.
"My mom had gotten a threatening call from a bill collector," he went on. "You know how those guys can get."
I nodded yes, that I knew.
"I tried to calm her down, to make her feel better. Frank found out about it and had to let me go."
"How did they find out about it," I asked, feeling like an absolute jerk.
"Someone at the L.A. Center saw us, I guess. Frank said I could come back Monday, and be re-admitted as a client. I've never finished anything in life. I'd like to finish this program."
I told him that I hoped to see him on Monday.
Even though it was not my fault I felt pretty miserable.
We have a lousy system here. To help keep production up Ernie Sens will yank beneficiaries out of the program, guys in an early and fragile stage of recovery, and make them employees, subjecting them to stresses and pressures they sure don't need. The men of course, go right along with it, anticipating the meager compensation. When you're unemployed even a low paying job looks good. The Center always needs drivers, and drivers are faced with the most temptations and stress.
And the Salvation Army, like most armies, is a very unforgiving employer.
I remember the last birthday dinner night we had here, when John asked about the canteen cards and socks the Major always gives as presents. John was concerned that he wouldn't be able to receive his socks, as it was the month of his birthday and he would be away, working the Night Crawler during the dinner. He was joking, not really caring about the cards and socks.
"I'll tell you what," he said. "You can forget about the cards and socks. Just have the Major and the other guys remember me in their prayers, and we'll call it even."
I told him that I would, and I did.
I hope he comes back, and I hope they let him back in.
One other thing caused me to feel a little uneasy today, other than allowing myself to worry about smoking again.
Ernie made my friend Tom Rotsch an employee.
A driver.

May 3 Friday Day 234

I woke up, went back to sleep, woke up again, went back to sleep again. Woke up, had lunch, then went back to sleep. Again.
Then I got up and went to work.
I did not feel good anymore.
Kevin Rockoff told me, among other things, that Ernie Sens had made my friend Dennis Smith an employee today as well. He'll be the new Night Crawler.
I remembered Dennis telling me yesterday after hearing about John Jimenez, that he would never work full time again for the Salvation Army.
"I've driven too many trucks for these guys," he told me, "and I've relapsed every time.. They make me a driver and within five weeks I'll be back on the streets, using."
So I asked him today, why did he take the job of Night Crawler.
"It's just temporary," he said. "I'll do it for a little while. Until Art Svensk retires, and I take over for him. I made sure Ernie knew it would be temporary only! And besides, I can go to school in the mornings!"
I told him that I would kill him if he relapsed because of this.
Dennis, myself, Tom Rotsch, Harold Eversley, and perhaps, Kevin Rockoff, I personally believe have the best chance for anything like long term sobriety this go around. Including myself in this list is itself a relapse warning sign. I can never allow myself to become over confident. The men I've mentioned are the one's I'm most aware of... there are probably a lot more. I hope there are.
I would hate to see anyone else's chance cut short due to the Sally's thirst for drivers.
I'm afraid I've already seen it too many times. Lee Franklin, Luis Carter, John Jimenez, are just a few. When these men become employees they are instantly transformed from recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, into workers, and if they've got a problem they better learn to deal with it themselves because the Salvation Army doesn't want to hear about it.

May 4 Saturday Day 235

Curtis Carter did not make it back last night for curfew. He had a pass for the night, having just finished his thirty day restriction, but had voided it earlier in the day.
He came back this morning and talked to Robert. When Mr. Vasquez told him he'd have to take a urine test to get back in, Curtis silently withdrew.
I wish him well.
I got out of bed at about 10:00, or so, and took a long shower. I talked with God awhile, prayed or whatever, then had lunch.
I wrote in the library after lunch, then went to the liquor store to buy some cigarettes. There was another fair in the park today. One booth afforded me the opportunity to register to vote, which I did. As a reward for doing so the nice lady who registered me threw a handful of confetti over my head.
I returned to the residence, and after removing most of the multicolored paper from my hair, I returned to library to write about "speed." I would do so for the rest of the evening.

May 5 Sunday Day 236

For myself, I have used amphetamines for many years.
It began back in high school where I experimented with most of the drugs I've come into contact with. We called them "uppers," "whites," or "cross tops," because the tiny pills were white in color, and had a cross (+) stamped onto one side. Ten for a dollar back then. Two or three would be enough to get me "wired," the euphoric, or energetic state I desired. I would hardly ever stop at two or three. If two or three made me feel real good just think how I'd feel taking all ten. I would usually wind up taking all ten, and then manifest very energetic drug seeking behavior until I found some more.
"Moderation," was not a word that much concerned me.
Diet pills worked just as well. My mom had bottles of them in our refrigerator at home. And once I discovered that they had much the same effect as the uppers I bought from my friends at school, the amount of pills in my mother's medicine bottles mysteriously decreased over the months until one day, lo and behold, the bottles disappeared altogether!
Surprisingly I was never caught, or charged by my family with the theft of those pills. One of the only times I was not busted for doing something like that.
That is of course only until my mom reads this.
Uppers allowed me to stay awake while drinking or getting stoned smoking marijuana. Beer and uppers were always a good combination. The beer took the edge off of the amphetamines, making me more mellow, and the speed allowed me to drink much more than I could normally, while not getting slow, lethargic, or stupid. Usually never.
And I'd get crazy on them. Not at times that anybody would notice. I would stay awake three or four nights in a row manufacturing the greatest sexual fantasies imaginable. I could never perform sexually while on speed, just fantasize a lot.
That could be frustrating at times.
In my twenties I found a more potent form of the drug called a "Black Beauty," a large black capsule, bought for two or three dollars apiece. The effect brought about by a single capsule would easily last for up to 24 hours.
For the most part I always took the amphetamine orally. Besides having no access to needles, they always turned me off. In later years I would sometimes snort the drug, inhale the crumbled pills, or the contents of the capsules through the nose. Amphetamines are quite irritating to the nasal passages though, and half of the time I would sneeze out more of the drug than I would take in.
I took amphetamines a good deal while in my teens, slowly tapering off while in my twenties, hardly at all in my thirties, where I now find myself. I stopped using the drug mainly because I disliked the aftereffects... the come down, the horrible feelings of fatigue, depression, and wretchedness that followed so close behind each instance of prolonged use. Eventually the bad points of amphetamine use outweighed the good, and that fact somehow made its way through the ten or more centimeters of skull that surrounds my brain.
I graduated from frequent large doses to small doses once or twice a year. My history of the use of LSD is very similar.
Well, on to other matters.
Dennis Smith did not last the weekend.
Yesterday I saw him sitting in the car he had bought from Ernie Sens. He smiled at me. He soon left and did not return by curfew. I didn't write him up. His being an employee now an A.W.O.L./A.C.O. wrap wouldn't stick. Even then, he did not follow procedure by neglecting to sign out in the employee pass book, a small requirement when a resident employee spends the night somewhere else.
I didn't see him all day today. I hope he's alright.
I had intended to go see "The Silence of the Lambs," again, and get another dose of Anthony Hopkins's Dr. Lecter, but the film had finally disappeared from the theater up the street. Instead, after chapel I returned to my room and watched some movies on television, and read. I felt tired because I had gotten up very early. I fell asleep while watching a lecture concerning Buddhist theory on PBS.
An interesting episode of "Star Trek, the Next Generation," tonight, reminiscent of the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s.
After which I secured a fairly decent seat for the Sunday night VCR movie, "Ghost," starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg. Demi provided most of the emotional content for this film. She's a great crier.
Near the end of the movie, as the bad guys got dragged down to Hell, a lot of comments like, "Makes you think about how you live your life," were made from the audience.
Mass guilt trip.
I went upstairs and watched "Married with Children," then finished reading the James Bond book and went to bed.
I've been having trouble getting to sleep lately, and tonight was no exception. I stopped trying to fall asleep and dropped off instantly.

May 6 Monday Day 237

No sign of Dennis yet. Rumor has it that he was in the front office this morning.
Curtis Carter was hanging around the lobby before lunch, waiting for today's board meeting determination.
Before lunch I went to the warehouse to look for a small cardboard box to use as a shipping container for the present I had bought for my mom for Mother's Day. I could not find one. Marvin Smith has taken over the bailing job from Hobart Rodgers, and is so efficient that he tears apart every box he receives immediately after receiving it in preparation for it being crushed and bailed, giving box hunters like me nary a chance to pounce upon an unsuspecting receptacle. Marvin felt a little guilty because he had no boxes to give me, so he went to the dock and scrounged one up.
I have given my mom a five inch long glass piano that can be utilized to hold various small objects within it's body by lifting the hinged lid. Pins and needles, candy, or what not. Totally useless really. I wrapped it carefully in newspaper, packaged it, and after lunch took it to the postal outlet on California Street to be mailed.
Afterwards I made what is becoming a weekly trek to P.C.C. This time I wished to find out the schedule for the English placement exams. Something I could have done on any of my previous visits, but being an alcoholic I tend to go out of my way to make everything a lot more difficult than it has any right to be. I discovered that I could take the test next Monday at 12:15PM. I must remember to take a pen and #2 pencil along.
From the college I walked west on Colorado to the Academy theater, where I had noticed "The Silence of the Lambs," was still playing. However, I found out that the first show would not begin until 5:00, many hours away, and I did not want to see it badly enough to wait around in the hot sun, so I caught the 256 back to the residence.
Where I worked out vigorously, then went to the park to lay out in the hot sun which I had earlier avoided. I listened to classic rock and roll while getting thirty minutes on each side.
Upon returning to the residence I worked out yet again, then showered and had dinner. Barbara Grothe sat with me, and gave me a tape to listen to. She had purchased it at a seminar she had attended over the weekend. The tape was all about guilt and shame. I listened to it up in my lonely room, and would now know everything there was to know about guilt and shame if I had not fallen asleep about half way through.
But perhaps all of that guilt ridden and shameful knowledge is up there in my subconscious, having been taken in subliminally. Sure feels that way.
When I woke up I wrote for a while in the lobby where I finally caught up with Dennis. He did not offer any explanation for his unexpected disappearance, and I did not press. I was just glad to see him safe and sound. He did tell me that he caught hell from old Ernie, but he would remain an employee, with no punishment, restriction, or whatever.
He did look a tad guilty and shameful, but maybe Barbara had gotten to him.
At 8:00 I watched the fourth installment of "The Astronomers." Tonight's show dealt with gravitational wave theorists, and quantum cosmologists. Stephen Hawking made a brief appearance. Remarkable man. This was the least informative of the episodes I've seen thus far, seemingly looking like a self admiration hour.
I watched a last hour of a T.V. movie, read, then went to sleep. My work week would begin in a few hours.

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