Thursday, January 20, 2011

Salvation Diary 45

"Salvation" Artist Amanda Milke

August 1 Thursday Day 324

Well, well, well, another long day. I have decided to carry on at the Adult Rehabilitation Center of the Salvation Army here in Pasadena, instead of moving to Japan, where I've discovered there are a lot of monasteries.
Probably a wise decision on my part. Monasticism could very well just be another form of escape for me. Another way to hide my deep feelings.
Our visitors from Denmark left for home today. Nice people (freeloaders).
Mrs. Johnson gave me a box of stuffed animals and costume jewelery she got for free from Avon, to give to the Danish people as going away presents. I imagine they were intended for the children. They left some of this fabulous booty in the apartment after vacating, and I confiscated a stuffed lion, necklace, and ankle bracelet, to give to my mother on Sunday, who in turn would give it to my beautiful, but precocious young niece, Keri.
I'm sure Mrs. Johnson would approve if I were to tell her.
Fat chance of that.
A couple of suspicious looking fellows have been hanging around the thrift store just before closing time, making the ladies who work there nervous. I took Anthony Bullock with me and went over there to see what was up. We only saw one guy hanging around, sitting in a blue Impala actually. I decided to call the police, but as I dialed the car drove off. The police said they were too busy molesting poor homeless people in the park to be bothered, so I told the girls if the guy came back to give me a call.
I spent most of the evening reading one of the books Cathy had lent to me. Very interesting material concerning family systems. Bradshaw describes the "courting phase," of a relationship, the "falling, or being in love phase," as "being out of your mind." I would have to say that is fairly accurate.
I had the unique opportunity to call Major and Mrs. Johnson at home when I knew they would be sleeping. Delta Airlines had called here at the residence to let us know Mrs. Johnson's 8:30AM flight had been canceled. Despite being woken, Mrs. Johnson (Jenny) was awfully glad I passed that little tidbit of info along.
And when I retired for the evening I thought about Cathy again, as I had found myself doing through a good portion of the day.
Why do I feel so much like a teenager thinking about his first date?

August 2 Friday Day 325

Come to think of it, my first date's name was Cathy. She was 14 years old and a model. A 14 year old model for God's sake. I used to write her letters and mail them "Special Delivery." That was fine until she wrote one back mailed the same way and my mom almost had two heart attacks thinking someone in the family had kicked the bucket.
This morning I got up at about nine and sat for a while thinking about what I would do until I began my big shift at 3:30.
I took a shower. It was the best shower I ever had.
After I dried off, I stole Reuben Smith away from Harold Eversley ("It's alright. You can have him," Harold exclaimed), and took him with me to see "Hot Shots," a new comedy starring Charlie Sheen, with Lloyd Bridges as the Admiral. It was ostensively about Navel fighter pilots.
ADMIRAL: "Why I've flown one hundred and ninety four missions... shot down every time. Come to think of it, I've never landed an airplane."
It was a fun hour and a half.
When I returned to the residence I worked out for a while, then went to work.
After the Friday afternoon madness abated somewhat, I was able to get back to the Bradshaw book on the family. Very interesting and valid stuff. Very real issues affecting each and every one of us. I'm glad that I've read this because my own research has primarily dealt with alcoholism and chemical dependency, not the etiology of possible causes of addictive behavior. "The disease behind the disease," as Bradshaw states.
Don't get me wrong. I still consider chemical addiction to be a "primary disease" which treatment must be first provided (abstinence) before any work regarding underlying conditions be attempted.
One other very interesting thing about reading this particular book is that Cathy has highlighted it much of it with a yellow felt pen. Either these passages held some kind of clinical interest for her, or they pertained to her personally, which I believe the latter to be the case from talking to her and knowing something about her.
Reading this has been very insightful.

August 3 Saturday Day 326

One year ago today Major Engels of the Van Nuys ARC searched through what he thought was my locker and found two empty half pint bottles of Seagram Seven (only maniacs drink Seagram Seven) that were not mine. He then had me terminated from that center and program.
Thus began my last (I hope) great relapse episode, from which I stumbled upon the shores of the Pasadena ARC a month and a half later.
This morning, immediately after prying myself from the steadfast jaws of Morpheus, I walked back to the Park from whence I came. This time though, instead of bringing a fifth of Bacardi (only desperate tequila drinkers drink Bacardi), I had my blanket and headphones. I had my cigarettes and book as well. That much had changed. When I once lived in the Park I spent my days drinking, smoking and reading.
I laid down on my flat and well muscled stomack (fantasy), propped myself on my elbows, and read from "The Family." I did this for the next twenty six minutes, until my poor elbows couldn't take it anymore. I then flattened out for four minutes, before flopping over for the next thirty, on my well chiseled back, while listening to Foreigner, Jethro Tull, and the Beatles.
I began work a little early. Got some writing done, taking care of the usual Saturday afternoon chores and paperwork.
Anthony Rutherford came into my office, tossed a five dollar bill on my desk and asked, "Can I have two canteen cards, Richard?"
"Well, let's see Anthony." I opened my cash drawer and looked inside. "Sorry. I don't have change. All I've got right now is one dollar bill and four quarters. You want three cards?"
"No." He took back the five dollar bill, rummaged through his pants pocket and pulled out a one. "Gimme one card then."
I gave him a card and took the dollar bill.
"Hey Anthony! Now I've got change. You want two cards?"
"You do? Gimme two cards."
I took his five and gave him back the dollar he had just given me, plus the dollar bill and quarters from the cash drawer, plus two more canteen cards. Anthony walked away from my office a happy and fulfilled man.
Things like this happen to me all of the time.
Ron Collins came into the office a little later and wanted to talk. He was depressed because he had just been talking to a lady friend of his named Patricia on the phone, which reminded him that he had no material possessions and couldn't go out on dates and have sex. He feels that because of his advancing age he'll never find any happiness, and that life has passed him by. I told him that he was doing what he needed to be doing right now, and if he was patient, things would surely get much better. He didn't want to hear any of that. He got mad at me because I refused to feel sorry for him.
Such is life.

August 4 Sunday Day 327

I sat in the third pew from the front during this mornings chapel service. A good spot for an usher. One can make it up to the podium and grab a collection pan real easy from there.
After I had seated myself I happened to glance at the service's program. I must confess I had not taken a look at it until that very moment, which accounted quite well for the feeling of utter horror and helplessness which fell upon me as I read my name printed next to the responsive reading section. I quickly opened the Salvation Army Songbook and found the portion I was supposed to read. I went over the section once, noticed I had to say the word "iniquities" about three times, and one "hyssop." No problem.
I did make a smooth entrance onto the stage, but I muttered the last line, and after finishing the usual one colum section I uttered the customary closing phrase, "May God add a blessing to the reading of his word," and walked off without realizing two paragraphs still remained unread at the top of the next colum. I had not finished the piece.
Many were happy to point this out to me as I regained my seat.
Life goes on. I did not drink over it.
Ron and I, along with my old roommate, Brian Montique, went to the Sunday speaker meeting at the American Legion building in South Pasadena. Skip was there. Ron was asked to recite the opening prayer, which he accomplished with distinction.
He's no longer mad at me he says. In fact, he thanked me for talking straight with him.
Friends are supposed to do stuff like that.
I did not go to the park this afternoon, even though it was nice and sunny. My mother and Jeanette came to visit me instead.
Jeanette is a lovely lady who I had not seen in over a year. A friend of my mothers, I first met her in a hospital room in St. Joseph's Medical Center in Burbank. I was kind of detoxifying at the time, that's why I was there in the hospital. I hadn't a clue as to who this short, smiling, little lady was, but she soon let me know, and gave me a carton of cigarettes, which I badly needed, and which made her alright in my book. At a time when I was very confused, scared, and anxious, she was reassuring, bright, and supportive. Her own son is a substance abuser, and at one time had gone through the very same ward that I was in. She and her husband Dick continued to visit me throughout my 28 day stay in St. Joseph's. They, my sister, and my close friend, Bobbie, were my only visitors while I was there. They supplied me with toilet articles, cigarettes, and other things I needed such as friendship and love.
They also saw me relapse a few times after I had checked out of the hospital. Once Jeanette and Bobbie came to visit me while I was busy isolating in my little bachelor apartment in North Hollywood. I was shit-faced, had in fact just finished setting my couch on fire, and was doing myself absolutely no good. I could hardly talk. It must have been very painful for them to see me that way, so they followed my mother's example and left me to my misery.
Which was probably a good thing. My transformation into a recovering sober guy was not pretty.
The last time I had seen Jeanette was a very brief occurrence in a motel hallway during my second to last relapse, after I had been unceremoniously thrown out of the Canoga Park A.R.C. She had come to my motel room, per my mother's instructions, to give me a new set of clothes to replace the torn, soiled ones I had been wearing. She knocked on the door, I opened it, she handed me the clothes. I did not invite her in. The room was filthy and I was naked. I had not let the maid come in since I had been there, nearly two weeks.
So it was good to see her today, me in my brand new, reasonable healthy state of mind. She was all bright, smiling, and inquisitive. She's always like that! I like her. I can relate to this woman. She is very caring and generous, we get along well, and I love her very much.
I gave Jeanette and my mother a tour of the residence. I also gave my mom a plastic bag filled with presents to take back to my beautiful and precocious little niece. Then we went to lunch. Rockoff happened to be sitting in the lobby as we were walking out, looking lost and vulnerable like a puppy, so I invited him along.
We went to Mijares, just west of the residence on Pasadena Ave. A stylish Mexican restaurant. I had enchiladas, Rockoff a burrito, quesadillas for my mom and Jeanette.
The ladies got it into their pretty little heads that I desperately needed a printer to go along with the computer I have up in my room. So after they dropped me and Kevin off at the residence they headed off to the Home Club to shop.
Typical female behavior.
Left to myself I went to my lonely room and read until I fell asleep. I slept right through, "Star Trek, the Next Generation," but got up in time to catch "Edward Scissorhands," tonight's VCR movie. A wonderful fairy tale film, done in pastel, directed by Tim Burton, of "Beetlejuice" and "Batman" fame. It was the kind of movie I couldn't wait to end because of the slow progression of the story in parts, and sometimes the outrageousness was just too hard to take. But when it was over I immediately wished to see it again. A beautiful and haunting musical score, and a cameo with Vincent Price in his last theatrical release before his death. Johnny Depp as Edward was perfect.
After the movie I walked to Vons and bought some devil food cakes, which I accidentally brought up to me room and greedily consumed. While I was consuming them I watched a stupid James Bond movie, one with Roger Moore, which dutifully put me back to sleep.

August 5 Monday Day 328

I kept waking in the middle of the night, for at least twelve times. I got up, went to the bathroom where I had an unauthorized cigarette, then returned to bed.
I made it to the lobby by ten to write a little. Wendy was there, counseling away, lovely as ever. I asked her how her weekend had been and if she had watched any football (exhibition games began last Saturday). She said, "Short and no."
After a cool lunch of Polish sausages, I continued to write until one o'clock. Then I put away my "The Mind" book, changed my clothes and worked out a little. Afterwards I went to the park for an hour or so. A good sunny day with a gentle breeze.
I ate some nice vegetables at dinner time. I was sitting with Barbara Grothe, Ron Collins, and Kevin Rockoff. Ron immediately began to tell Barbara the same sad story he told me in my office last Saturday. Barbara reacted pretty much the same way I had, by telling him that if he was patient things will come his way. Ron still wants everything on his own terms. "There's got to be a payoff," he said. We suggested personal growth and satisfaction as a payoff. Ron wants something a bit more material. Something that has weight and takes up space, like money or a new Cadillac. Barbara surmised that Ron's longing for instant gratification will probably cause him some misery. Ron agreed.
I don't understand this type of attitude, but I see an awful lot of it around here. Everywhere really. I don't let it bother me. Ron is a reasonably intelligent man who must realize the consequences of his actions, and who just doesn't care to do anything that can actually help him. He likes to complain and moan, and expects things to be given to him just because he's a nice guy who is getting a bit older.
There's not a whole lot you can do for people like this except leave them to their fate.
I was like that a lot when I was drinking, but never when sober.
Reuben Smith kept driving poor Carlos Noble crazy during relapse prevention by making annoying sucking noises while continuously tossing his juggling balls back and forth. Carlos couldn't take it and had to leave.
I hope he doesn't relapse.

August 6 Tuesday Day 329

I put Roger Collins on the Saturday work list. I enjoyed doing it.
During his shift last night Roger put up Wednesday's schedule on the bulletin board instead of Tuesday's, realized his mistake and refused to correct it, saying, "Oh Kevin will fix it in the morning."
He also screwed up the radio log, which in itself is not very surprising considering Roger had also turned the radio off, effectively eliminating the possibility of communication between the residence and any part of the outside world.
I do not believe Roger has his heart in his work.
After my big morning shift was over I worked out for a little while, the snoozed for a bit.
At 5:30 I was down in the lobby attempting to read John Bardshaw's "Healing the Shame that Binds You." Interesting book. This is the second book that Cathy has lent to me, and I was trying to finish reading it before she came tomorrow night. But Robert was hiding somewhere, as usual, and everybody and their brother kept asking me to stop what I was doing and sell them canteen cards.
Jill made it here by 6:05 for her 5:45 group counseling session. Charity was here also. She told me she was very sleepy because of all the meatloaf we fed to her at dinnertime and wanted to leave before seeing her last two clients.
It had too much sodium glutamate, she said.
I spent the rest of the evening practicing to myself what I would say to Cathy tomorrow night.

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