Saturday, February 12, 2011

Salvation Diary 47

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

August 12 Monday Day 335

Lots of things to do today, so I dragged myself out of bed at 7:00, and by 7:36 I was sitting in the small T.V. room watching Part 5 and 6 of the "Homecoming," series, starring John Bradshaw. How to champion your inner child, and how to relieve a lot of repressed negative emotions and feel better about yourself. About halfway through the first hour long segment, Richard Hendrickson, the night crawler driver, came in and began to watch the video with me. At this time the T.V. picture went all to hell. All we could make out was what appeared to be John Bradshaw, or someone who sounded like him, walking back and forth in the midst of an intense snowstorm. I adjusted the tracking mechanism on the V.C.R., which did not help at all, so we figured, Richard and I, that either the tape itself was defective, or the V.C.R. heads needed to be cleaned. Having resolved this question to our mutual satisfaction, we sat back and absorbed what information the tape had to offer in it's audio spectrum.
Several others who happened, as chance would have it, to walk in on us hoping to to use the room to view morning cartoons, or "Leave it to Beaver," were openly bewildered by the sight of Richard and I steadfastly watching a moving fuzzball while being lectured about "having our needs met," "multi-generational dysfunctionality," and the discovery of one's own penis.
After the tape, I worked out for thirty minutes, made a phone call to my dentist, and discovered that the permanent front tooth that had been made for me was indeed ready. I made an appointment for later in the day. I had some nice lunch, then wrote until it was time to go.
This was the easiest visit to the dentist I have ever had. No face numbing injections into the gums, no biting probes or whirling drills. The dentist just came in and said, "Hello, how are you? How's the weather outside? Are you ready for your new tooth? " He then reached into my mouth, grabbed the temporary cap, yanked it out, shoved the new permanent cap into my upper gum, shoved a mirror into my face, and asked, "How does it look?"
It looked pretty good actually. A lot better than a chipped tooth. Or no tooth at all. The clean white color of the new crown didn't quite blend in with the other coffee and nicotine stained teeth, but maybe they would learn from it. Overall I was very happy. I can smile now without having to stick my tongue up the front of my mouth, like some love struck cow. After a year and a half that feels pretty good.
On the way out I asked how much it would cost to have all of my teeth bleached. This process would brighten my remaining choppers.
$300 total. I told them I'd get back to them.
On my way back I stopped at the mall. Roger Collins wanted me to pick up a new battery for his watch (Roger will be returning to the canteen this week. His obsequious behavior at the desk has been just too much), and I needed a new belt. All of the belts I get from the thrift store seem to disintegrate once exposed to fresh air. I got the battery, found a belt at the Broadway for $21.00 ($21.00 for a single strap of cowhide with little holes in it), then made a pass through the two book stores to see what was what.
Tom Clancy had a new book out. Being the thrifty (cheap) individual that I am, I'll wait for the paperback to come.
I browsed through the Psychology Section and came across a copy of Frankel's "A Search for Meaning." I bought it as a gift for Cathy, a thank you for turning me on to John Bradshaw. That's what I wrote on the inside cover, "For Cathy, Thanks for turning me on to Bradshaw." I hope she hasn't already read it.
Upon returning to the residence I wrote and snoozed for a while, waiting for the Relapse Prevention Workshop. I was awfully hungry, but was not supposed to eat until later in the evening so my new tooth could anchor itself properly in it's new home.
Barbara had the nerve to abandon us last Friday and take a two week vacation. She's gone to Montana of all places, to visit some property she and her husband own.
That's the problem with owning property. You always have to go visit it.
Anyway, while she is gone Carlos and I were delegated to oversee the relapse group. When I called the meeting together, Reuben Smith told me that he made made an arrangement with Barbara excusing him from the meetings. I strongly suggested that he attend, not that I didn't trust his word... well, I guess that was it exactly, I didn't trust his word. We're well aware of Reuben's penchant for utilizing untruths to his own advantage.
I was a little nervous, this being the first meeting, or group I was directly responsible for. But things went fairly smoothly and rolled right along for the entire hour. Reuben was even (although slightly coerced into it) awakened from his stubborn silence and made some substantial contributions to the discussion. All in all I was rather pleased.
Later in my lonely room I broke down and began reading the actual instructions for my new word processor and printer.
It was if a veil had been lifted.

August 13 Tuesday Day 336

Eleven months down, one to go!
And then on to the rest of my life.
One day at a time of course.
It feels great to have eleven months sober. Something about the number eleven. It has a regal quality about it. Eleven. "I have eleven months today!" Sounds pretty good doesn't it? "How are you, sir?" "Why fine, thank you. I have eleven months today."
They didn't give me the day off or anything because of it. You have to get malaria or something before you get a day off around here.
So I got up at 5:30 and went to work. I wrote quite a bit in the early morning, up until 9:30. Then I found some time to get some actual desk work done.
One's priorities must be in order.
Ben Driscoll came back into the program today. Don't ask me why they didn't refer him to another facility that might really help him rather than take him back in here. Good worker I suppose.
Major Johnson reminded me, while I was over at the front office harassing the bookkeeper for more canteen cards, that we were expecting approximately twenty five visitors for tomorrow's chapel service. A big time gospel singer guy, Andre Crouch, had consented to perform for us, and I had to make sure he and his entourage were fed, and had time to set up. No problem.
Columbus Davis would stop being our laundryman and replace Roger Collins at the desk. Gary Christensen would take over in the laundry.
At 1:00PM Gary told me that he was missing 30 towels. According to out new towel policy established by Major Allen, no one should have a towel in their locker during working hours. I gathered the locker keys and made a little inspection, finding 35 lockers with towels in them.
Some with more than one towel.
Pretty exciting stuff, I admit.
When I got off work, and after watching "Tiny Toons Adventures," and because Charity was here, I went to the lobby to continue reading the book that she had lent to me. She would know by this action that I was really reading it. She noticed this and sat down next to me and we discussed the book. I told her that generally I did not think the book was particularly fair to Eastern religions and philosophies, that they were in fact, depicted as being evil. She said that some of them were evil. After discussing all of the battles the demons and angels were involved with in the book, and how each entity had the ability to influence mortal men, she told me that demons were real, that she had in fact seen one while in the act of being delivered. I assume she meant while in the act of being converted, or saved in the Christian sense. I wasn't about to argue with someone who's seen demons.
Charity is a singer. She's going to sing tomorrow night too.
Jill came in at 6:00 for her 5:45 group counseling session. I did not have the time to stay and chat, since "Star Trek, the Next Generation," was about to begin.
I read and watched television up in my lonely room for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow would be a busy day, and I needed my rest.
I did have one, very nice, coconut covered donut to help celebrate my eleven month anniversary. One and a half really. Not exactly on my diet, but...

August 14 Wednesday Day 337

We're being attacked by the possums again. They're everywhere.
Andre Crouch, the big time gospel singer who was supposed to have performed with Charity and her singing brothers and sisters at chapel, couldn't make it because his flight from Norway had been delayed. Charity and her siblings put on a marvelous show in his absence. They sang their little gospel hearts out, God bless'em. . It was thoroughly appreciated.
I watched the last of the tapes that Cathy had lent to me. More John Bradshaw of course. I now feel I've reached my saturation point with Mr. Bradshaw. He can be a little grating.
I did learn quite a bit from them, and I was glad Cathy had lent them to me. I even came across some unique pickup lines, such as, "Oh baby, I want to get into your boundaries," and "Let's bond."
Speaking of Cathy, in accordance with my new found sense of freedom and independence, I had planned to be courteous and friendly this evening. I would give her the book I had bought for her, but not go out of my way to be ingratiating. Just act normally, enjoy her presence and the presence of everybody else around here, like I usually do. But because of Ron Collins being asleep when Cathy was ready to talk to him, I somehow wound up taking his place, and Cathy and I, finally, had a nice long sit down conversation. We talked about the program at the center mostly, how the residence operates, and my small part in it. I found out that she likes to run, and has in fact finished three marathons. I myself cannot stand running, but do it sometimes because I'm told it's good for me.
We talked for a good thirty minutes, and would have talked longer if Robert hadn't chose that time to return from one of his many and varied outings, yelling and screaming, "Where's my desk crew? Has everybody abandoned their post?" (apparently Jack Crossley had stepped out for a moment) So I left the lovely Cathy in order to placate my disgruntled boss.
After he was settled down and briefed, Cathy was ready to leave, so naturally I offered to escort her to her car. We talked some more out there in the parking lot. She told me that she had had a veterinary emergency the other night. Her unfixed female cat had gone into heat and was viciously attacked by her neutered male cat.
She gave me two more books to read, then it was time for her to go home.
"Well... I guess I'll see you next week," she said looking up at me from car window. She hesitated, and looked (radiant) kind of expectant.
If this wasn't an opening I don't know what was.
"What do you do on Sundays?" I asked.
"I have my home group to go to, in the mornings."
"Because I was wondering if you'd like, maybe we could get together. Ah I like you a lot and would like to talk to you some more."
"Well, how about in the afternoon."
"That would be great."
I asked her to give me a call sometime Friday or Saturday night while I was working to make the final arrangements.
I asked her to drive safely before she left. We smiled at each other, and then she was off.
I was very happy.
I don't remember dreaming that night, but when I woke up in the morning, I felt very, very good.

August 15 Thursday Day 338

All I really wanted to do today was to get through it as quickly as possible. The sooner the day ended the sooner I would be able to talk to Cathy Friday or Saturday night. And I wanted to talk to her very much.
I must say my mind was a little preoccupied with thoughts of her throughout the day. Whenever I wasn't doing anything at all, or while attempting to use my last three surviving neurons to figure out canteen cards, janitorial supplies, or measuring the softness of the ice cream served in the canteen, my thoughts always returned to her and our last conversation. I thought about what we could do on Sunday, and what I would say to her when she called.
So much for detachment.
What if she tells me that she forgot all about her usual Sunday afternoon hair washing ritual and can't make it?
Bullshit! She's just not that kind of girl. If she didn't want to go out with me she wouldn't have accepted my invitation.
Our own minds sometimes make us worry needlessly.
See how weird men are.
Of course women aren't any better.
I managed to get through another seventeen hour shift. It got rather tiresome getting on into the evening.
Richard Bennett came into my office complaining to me about Ed Reitz (both of these guys really crack me up), and about how he feels an increase of racial tension in the house.
I see no indication of this.
That doesn't mean it's not there.
I had people complaining about the temperature in their dorms, either too hot or too cold. A maintenance problem. I had people complaining about having to get haircuts. I had people complaining about Roger being back in the canteen taking his bloody sweet time serving food. I had people complaining about whatever they could find to complain about.
But I handled it with cool efficiency and dispatch. All part of the job.
I was very happy to see eleven o'clock come around.
Eddie Gillespie, theological magician and emissary, poet, man of leisure, and my friend, has consented to be our night security relief person. He appears out of nowhere near curfew time on Thursday and Friday nights, and then, his mission completed the following morning, he disappears back into the mists of time from whence he came. He doesn't have an address, and no one knows where he lives. Quite odd for a security person, admittedly. I am also required to breath-a-lize him at the beginning of each shift... another unusual requirement. But I'm glad he's here, and I'm glad he's okay.
Ed McNicol did not return from a two day pass. I had to A.C.O. him. Many of us here think the possums got him and took him away to Possum Land (more than likely he's all drunk in his brother's apartment in the Green Hotel).
And as I was laying in bed thinking again about how wonderful Cathy is (this is getting really sickening, isn't it), I realized something about our last conversation together.
I got to talk!

August 16 Friday Day 339

Ed McNicol managed to escape "by the skin of my teeth," from the cavernous den of the red eyed, malignant King of the Possums. "There were millions of them," he said. "As far as the eye could see."
Ed told me his story. On his way back from visiting his brother at the infamous Green Hotel, he was waylaid by three shifty looking possums dressed as fandango dancers. They systematically dragged him underneath the ground and held him captive, waiting to be sacrificed to the Great Possum God Rudolfo.
Being a fair possum, and one who liked to gamble now and then, the King of Possums offered Ed one chance of reprieve. All Ed had to do was answer the secret question.
"Ask me!" Ed gasped.
"What is the average flying velocity of the swallow during its annual summer migration?"
"What? The European or the African swallow?"
"Ahhh, well now, I'm not sure..." the ugly beast sat hard in thought. Nothing like this had never happened before, and during the ensuing melee that transpired while trying to straighten the matter out, Ed ducked out the back door and skedaddled back on to the residence.
We still had to take two dollars from his gratuity for coming back late from pass, no matter how ingenious his explanation. We chastised him harshly too.
After listening to Ed's story, witnessing the several long and shallow scratches along his arms and face that he offered as proof of his ordeal ("Possum love bites," Ed claims), I did a little writing, then went to the park.
While there I began yet another book that Cathy had lent to me. "Under the Influence," by Dr. James R. Milan and Katherine Ketcham. I learned from this book that my alcoholic nature is probably due to "a liver enzyme malfunction which results in a buildup of actaldehyde throughout the body. In the brain these large amounts of actaldehyde interact with brain amines to create the isoquinolines. These mischievous substances may trigger the alcoholic's need to drink more and more alcohol to counter the painful effects of the progressive buildup of actaldehyde.
"Heredity is clearly implicated."
Well that's good to know! I'm certainly glad that I didn't have anything to do with it.
Clearly there are other factors besides those found within the biological sciences that create a predisposition toward alcoholism and drug addiction. There are many factors involved with the psychological, sociological, and environmental composition of the addict, as well as the physiological contributions to the etiology of the disease. But a generally well understood physical predisposition toward alcohol addiction should help to alleviate much of the guilt and shame we alcoholics suffer as a direct result of societies misunderstanding of this complicated condition.
The main point of all this being we didn't ask to be this way.
During my shift, after the Friday afternoon madness, I finished reading Charity's book and continued reading Cathy's while waiting desperately for her to call. Cathy that is. I thought to myself many things; about how awkward and fumbling my invitation to her was, and how she must think I'm a raving looney. But most of all, why didn't I ask for her number instead of having her call me?
Women don't like to call guys you know. A girl told me that once.
By ten o'clock she hadn't called, so all of my hopes and dreams rested on tomorrow night. Kevin Rockoff and I ordered a Domino's pizza with mushrooms and extra cheese, consumed it with relish, finished our shift, then retired for the evening.
Possums filled my dreams.

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