Sunday, August 22, 2010

Salvation Diary 40

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

July 3 Wednesday Day 295

Poor old Bill Raushemplat was sent over to the warehouse this morning. For some reason he thought he would get his old, nice, cushy job back in the phone room. But they were fed up with him there as well, and he wound up on the dock unloading trucks. His attitude was such that after only forty-five minutes his fellow dock workers needed to be restrained from dismembering him. So a wise Bill Richardson (dock foreman) removed him from that work station, and gave him over to Charles Parsons to work in the sorting room. After five minutes there Raushemplat went to Ed Reitz's office and complained bitterly about his roommate, Luis Rublacava. Bill demanded to be moved to another dorm stating irreconcilable differences. Ed listened to him patiently, sent him on his way, then phoned me and told me to keep him in the same dorm for the time being. Bill went from Ed's office, down the hall to Clarence Orion's office and began to give Clarence a hard time. Bill claimed he wasn't feeling well and demanded a bed rest pass. Clarence, mainly to get Bill out of his hair, gave it to him. So Bill came back to the residence where he stayed mostly in his dorm, grumbling at all who came near.
My day was rather peaceful in the morning, maddeningly hectic in the afternoon, and satisfyingly calm in the evening. Kathy came tonight. I must say I don't know how to approach this girl, or even if I should. Maybe that would be the worst thing possible for our respective recoveries. Maybe I think too much. I do find myself genuinely drawn to her. She keeps giving me little glances. Of course I wouldn't know that unless I was giving her glances of my own. After she wished all of the guys hanging out in the lobby a "safe and sane and sober" holiday, I wished her a good weekend and cautioned her to drive safely. She then left.
Darrell Sipp looked at me and said, "I think she has a thing for you. A small thing, but a thing." What an odd statement for him to make.
I just happened to be strolling outside as Kathy was pulling out of the parking lot. She waved at me. I waved back.
Later I went upstairs to the bathroom in the sample room to have a cigarette. I remembered that I had seen Kathy standing outside earlier talking to Ron Collins. She was smoking a cigarette. Hummm. Maybe I won't quit for a while after all.

July 4 Thursday Day 296

The Fourth of July! Independence Day!
Last year I was at the Van Nuys center getting ready to be framed and tossed out, and beginning my last relapse. This year I'm nice and sober again, and looking forward to a sixteen hour shift of joy and happiness.
The day turned out alright really. Much more relaxed than yesterday. In the morning I had some business with the trailer in the thrift store parking lot. Then paperwork. Schimmele and I walked over to Music Plus where I rented the video, "Born on the Fourth of July." And later we gave away six door prizes, one every hour from 9:00AM to 2:00PM. At 10:00 Mr. Pandolfi picked my room number out of the barrel, and I won. It was in no way fixed. I won fair and square. Really. I was meant to have that Irish Spring deodorant.
Most of the day was spent reading articles out of old issues of Omni magazine. And eating. The buffet was laid out from 12:30 to 4:00.
Yum yum.
Most of the guys who stayed near the residence today laid around, catching up on sleep, playing pool, doing laundry. Some faithfully watched the famous July 4th Twilight Zone marathon on channel five. I must admit, I checked in on a few episodes.
A family from Demark, Copenhagen actually, were staying with us in the upstairs apartment. They would be with us most of this month. A man with his wife, and two young sons. All blonde. They seem like nice people. I don't know what their connection with the Salvation Army is, or if they're here on some sort of business. They don't seem to be. They've been seeing the sights; Disneyland, Universal Studios, Magic Mountain, places like that.
At about 9:00PM, when it got dark outside, I gave them a call up in their apartment and told them (I'm quite fluent in Danish) that if they looked out of their balcony window they might be able to catch a glimpse of a very unusual sight. Indeed, a very American sight.
Up above the Rose Bowl, directly north of the residence, the multicolored skyrockets exploded and exploded.

July 5 Friday Day 296

I got up early, took a quick shower, and with Marvin Gardenhire, went to see the new release, "Terminator 2, Judgment Day." The movie stars Linda Hamilton, Arnie Schwarzenegger, and special effects. Like "Predator 2," this is a faithful sequel, and very good, very action packed. The director, James Cameron, wrote and directed the first Terminator movie as well as this one, so you might say it was a labor of love. I enjoyed both films equally well, which says something about expanded budgets for making movies, and the real importance of story and characterization. The first film cost less than 15 million dollars to produce, while the sequel, it is rumored, cost between 80 and 100 million. The cost of the sequel is what most film producers would consider a tremendous success if their own films generated anything close to that amount in revenue.
Going to the movies was a pleasant way to spend this hot and smoggy morning in any case.
After the film we returned to the residence, and I got ready for my afternoon shift.
I wrote in the lobby before work, and continued to write throughout the somewhat busy evening. Roger Collins is now on the desk (imagine my joy), replacing Bill Raushemplat. I spent some time showing him the various ropes.
George Staub was expected tonight for a brief visit. He was scheduled to stay overnight in the small apartment.
Later, after going to bed, I would sleep and dream of Natalie Wood and Jill St. John fighting over me.

July 6 Saturday Day 298

George Staub came in last night at about 9:00. He looks the same. He acts the same. He didn't remember my name. He kept stealing glances at my identification badge to find out what my name was so it wouldn't appear as if he had forgotten it. He needn't have bothered. He could never remember my name even when he was still working here.
He seems alright. He works for the Salvation Army in Phoenix now. He says it's hot there. I have little trouble believing him. He also says there is less of a traffic problem in Phoenix that there is here in LA. I have even less trouble believing that. Anywhere has less of a traffic problem than Los Angeles. He says he and his lovely wife eat a lot of popcorn for dinner, and that eating popcorn saves them a lot of time in the evenings.
I suppose it would.
He asked me how I was doing, then went to bed. He said we would talk later.
He always says that. He used to say to me, "You and I should have a little talk," when he was our program director. We never did. I'm sure he was sincere when saying that, and that he really did wish to talk with me. He just never got around to it.
George was long gone, and well on his way back to Arizona when I got up this morning.
So much for George.
Bye, bye.
I came down and had a little salad for lunch. Then I talked to Robert. He wanted me to go get the weekend movies again. Tom Rotsch went with me. I picked "Chinatown," and it's sequel, "The Two Jakes." I have not seen the sequel, so I will show it tomorrow night so I can watch it.
I went to the park and laid out in the sun for an hour or so. I listened to good Led Zeppelin music on the radio.
My shift went so smoothly I had the time to finish reading the Licit and Illicit Drug book from Consumers Union.
I highly recommend it.

July 7 Sunday Day 299

David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash. They woke woke me up at 6:30 in the morning singing about helplessly hoping.
Noisy bastards!
I got out of bed with great expectations, for this was the day of the great employee picnic. I showered then dressed in my picnic clothes, for I had surreptitiously gotten the word that all of us picnic goers would not be required to attend chapel.
So I was all happy and everything, like a kid let out of school an hour early.
My happiness was short lived. I had just returned from an 8:30 trip to the store to buy cigarettes, when Mr. Vasquez announced that the Major wanted all of us picnic goers to attend chapel. This meant several things. First it meant that I would have to change clothes in a hurry as chapel would be starting in half an hour. Second, since us residence picnic goers were the ones bringing the picnic supplies; food, games, sodas, etc., the festivities would not be able to start until we got there, and a scheduled 10:00 picnic would now probably not begin until noon. Third, and most important, I would have to sit through another hour long chapel service.
I must admit I was a little ticked off when Robert told me this. I dislike abrupt changes in the plan. I calmed down quickly enough. Just one more disappointment to deal with in this veal of tears. Nothing to drink over.
Chapel got out fifteen minutes early in any case. Then Tom Rotsch, Richard Hendrickson, and myself, with the help of Harold Eversley and Joe Brown, packed up Red Shield 12 with picnic goodies, and were on our way.
The picnic was to be held at the Santa Fe Dam Recreational facility, in Irwindale. And we almost made it there before we realized we had forgotten the two thirty gallon containers of ice, and all of the water. We turned around and went back to the residence, picked up those items of necessity, then turned our direction once again toward the dam.
It's a lovely park. It has a lake and everything. The lake is about a mile long and a couple of hundred yards wide, which sail and paddle boats made use of, floating around at a leisurely pace, gliding effortlessly across the calm surface.
Our picnic area had been reserved a head of time, which was a good thing because the park was very crowded on this Sunday afternoon. There was high cloud cover to give us some relief from the hot, July sun, so all in all it was very nice.
I didn't know most of the people there. It wasn't because I was a new employee. It was rather for the fact that the girls in the front office or the warehouse didn't show up, neither did the truck drivers, or the guys from the Transition House, except for Charles Parsons, all of whom I came into contact with on a regular basis. Most of the people who did show up were employed at the various stores the Salvation Army maintains in the San Gabriel Valley, and whom I didn't know from beans, and would usually never have occasion to meet. So this was an exciting opportunity to get to know everybody, and make myself known. It's too bad that I'm so shy and all, and socially inept.
Ed Reitz and his lovely family helped to break the ice by immediately involving a bunch of helpless victims in a water balloon toss, myself included. I even won the damn thing! Me and my partner, Dan Jones, the former resident, now warehouse janitor. We were the ones with the last intact balloon.
Very exciting!
Chow time after the toss. I made a big pig of myself by having two burgers and a hot dog. They were good.
The Major and Mrs. Johnson showed up eventually, with our Danish guests. They ate and then took off. The Major is prone to skin cancer, it seems, and cannot stand around in the sun for very long.
Later we played a little volleyball. Again I found myself on the winning team. We trashed Ed Reitz thoroughly.
Poor, poor Ed.
Tom Rotsch, enthusiastic fellow that he is, made a flying dive into the lake (fully clothed) going after the ball.
I almost damn near won the egg toss as well, but I gave my partner, Tom, a short throw, and the egg squished in his hands. Harold Eversley, and his beautiful ladyfriend, Ellie, held on to become the winners.
After the picnic everyone began to leave in small groups until the same bunch of people who had loaded the truck got stuck with the job of loading it back up again with leftover picnic trash and garbage. After we finished all of this loading, we left.
I got back just in time for "Star Trek, the Next Generation," but it was another rerun, and I soon fell asleep, tired out from the day's activities.
Kevin Rockoff woke me up an hour later by knocking on my door. He needed me to come down to the desk because the breath-a-lizer was acting up. He thought it needed a new battery. It had given Keith Kinsler a reading of 8.80, which would have meant that (1) that Keith was dead, and (2) his body had been floating in a vat of alcohol for the last three weeks. Kevin had been right, the breath-a-lizer did need a new battery. It began to work just fine after we put one in. Good enough to bust old Keith, who it turns out had in fact been drinking. He registered a .07. Keith said, "Bullshit!" He said he didn't believe the device was working properly. I blew in it myself and showed him the .00 reading, then had him blow again.
He went upstairs to pack his bags.
I got a front row seat for the Sunday Night VCR Movie, "The Two Jakes," the sequel to "Chinatown." Jack Nicholson starred in "Chinatown," of course, and starred in and directed "The Two Jakes." I was very impressed. usually sequels appear about a year or two after the original, maybe four or five, as to capitalize on the success of the first film. In this instance there had been fifteen years between the making of Roman Polanski's stylish detective drama, and "The Two Jakes." I got a little nostalgic thinking about it. Both films are period pieces, set in Los Angeles, before and after World War II respectively. And both were saturated with atmosphere, which made it easy to become nostalgic. As Nicholson's character, J.J. Getties, found himself looking into his own past toward the events first introduced in "Chinatown," I found myself thinking and remembering what my life had been like since I first saw that movie in the mid-seventies. I saw how Nicholson had changed, and saw how I had changed (Boy, Jack sure has gotten a lot older (and fatter). I remembered the supporting characters in the sequel who had also appeared in the first film (boy, they've gotten a lot older too). I wonder what it must have been like to have all of those people after so many years get back together once again for this project. What it must have felt like to take up where the first story left off. I wondered how much the actors lives had become intrinsically involved with the lives of their film characters, who had lived and changed just as they had. How odd it must have felt.
And I knew that by remembering my life, then and now, that watching those movies at two different and distinct periods of my life, these films have certainly become a part of me, a part of my make up, my existence. My fate has in some small way been influenced by the creation of Robert Towne, mixed inexorably with the fate of Jake Getties, Noah Cross, and the tragedy of the Malway women.
That's the beauty of film I guess. You never know what will happen and how they'll make you feel.

July 8 Monday Day 300

Wendy, the beautiful blonde counselor who comes here on Monday mornings, gave me a great big, gorgeous, unsolicited, smile this morning as I sat in the lobby reading the business section of the L.A. Times.
Wow! She's never done that before. She's been working here for as long as I've been around and she usually acts very shy and will hardly say hello. But I guess she must think I'm okay now, since I've been helping her get her clients from the warehouse when they are slow in showing up.
That smile was sure worth any effort I put out. It brightened my whole day.
Considering it was raining outside that was quite an accomplishment.
I stayed in the lobby (hoping for another smile?), and wrote. After lunch I helped Robert with the massive amount of urine that we had collected over the weekend. One complication after another kept me there until dinner time.
We discussed the different stages of recovery in our relapse prevention workshop. We also talked about the brain's capacity to sustain damage, which fortunately for all of us present is considerable.
I watched an interesting program concerning the Actor's Workshop In New York City. Then on Nightline, a show focusing on a famine in Ethiopia, and how the relief supplies have been diverted by corrupt local officials.
I really could not bare to watch this program for very long. The rapid interchange of images illustrating scenes of mass starvation, fly blown bodies, and sun baked graves, sprinkled with new car, beer, and bubble gum commercials was just too much.
I turned it off and thought for awhile, then went to bed.

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