Saturday, August 20, 2011

Salvation Diary 51

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

September 1 Sunday Day 355

So... we're back to September.
What an odd month. Very hot during the day, nice at night. I don't believe I've done anything significant in September... until now. 354 complete days without a drink of booze, fix of heroin, snort of cocaine, whiff of marijuana, or the introduction of any mind altering chemical in any way, shape, or form.
Except for nicotine and caffeine of course. Maybe next year. Perhaps having my teeth bleached on the 9th will provide a motivating factor to quit smoking.
I still have a few days before the year's up. Today began at 8:00. After my alarm sounded I heard Robert and Roger in the bathroom getting ready for chapel. They had both been awake for hours, but they each independently decided that right at the time I woke and needed to get washed and dressed would be a good time to hog the washing facilities.
Scum, both of them.
At 8:15 exactly they left and I moved in. I kicked out a janitor, then had the place to myself.
I sat next to Schimmele in chapel. After the service began I noticed that Kevin Rockoff was not present. He must have been in bed, tired from his all night job guarding a dairy. I shook Schimmele's hand while saying, "Congratulations, you're now an usher."
Much to his eventual regret he did such a fine job that Clarence Orion decided to make him permanent.
Ron Collins wimped out and did not go with me and Brian Montique to the Sunday A.A. meeting. He wanted to watch football instead.
Ron told me last night that he didn't think he would be seeing his counselor Cathy anymore. As an employee he doesn't have to.
I think I know why Ron doesn't want to see her, but I'm not allowed to tell. I'm not even allowed to let on that I know. It would embarrass him and I don't want to do that.
I like Ron, and he's my friend, but I worry about him sometimes.
The A.A. meeting was a good one with a fine speaker. Skip was there for me to talk to during the breaks. I've been showing up long enough that I can't help but meet others as well.
I went to the park for an hour. I listened to songs 364, 363, 362, and 361 of the KLSX Top 1000 Labor Day Weekend Countdown, while reading some more about co-dependency.
One guy in the park set up a PA system and played Christian religious propaganda and music as loud as he could. He danced around as he did this. He had a lot of nerve invading my space in a public place like that. I felt as a non-smoker must feel in a movie theater surrounded by a bunch of kids smoking their brains out. Finally the police came over from the other side of the park, where they had been busy harassing some poor homeless people, and told this dancing idiot to turn the music down.
When the police went away he turned it back up again.
I ate dinner back at the residence. A big meatball sort of thing with yams and green beans. It was good. I hadn't eaten all day, so I was hungry. At the time a block of warm cement would have tasted good. I poured blue cheese dressing over it to spice things up a bit.
I watched "Star Trek, the Next Generation." A repeat episode dealing with the question of what it is that we find love in others, what is important to us? Is it the exterior, or the person that they really are?
I think it's both, and in varying degrees.
I then fell asleep for awhile, but got up in time to get a good seat for the Sunday night V.C.R. movie, "Wild at Heart," a delightful film from David Lynch... his version of "The Wizard of Oz." Laura Dern was perfect. Nicholas cage was funny, and William DeFoe... frightening.
Some might say the movie was sick and deranged, as is David Lynch.
They might be right.
He is also one of the most original and inventive filmmakers around.
Still, there's no denying the man is disturbed.
After the movie I returned to my lonely room and played with my word processor and printer. I got it to print all I had to say in about half the space I used to.
Nifty, but hard to read.
After I got tired of that I ate some unauthorized tortilla chips and salsa, then got into bed and watched a rerun of "M.A.S.H.," while reading Arthur C. Clarke. I soon slept.
I dreamt of alien wearing black rubber gloves.

September 2 Monday Day 356

Labor Day! Oh Boy!
I was so excited about it that I made an unconscious decision to celebrate by sleeping in until noon. I didn't wake until Robert announced over the P.A. system that a special holiday V.C.R. movie, "Dancing with Wolves," would be shown at 1:00.
I would have attended, but the idea of watching Kevin Costner dashing around in the midst of a herd of mechanical buffaloes didn't seem to appeal to me.
After a nice shower I went down and had lunch instead. Very tasty luncheon meat sandwiches, with a piece of baked chicken, and corn-on-the-cob.
I smoked a cigarette outside in the parking lot, then went back to my lonely room and turned on my word processor and printer. I would continue to play with these two devices for most of the evening (very exciting), and actually write the sequence just before Day 1 starts, at the beginning of this book. I wrote it directly into the processor, without first forming it in long hand.
I felt exhilarated seeing it in print.
The word processor gets the page numbers all mixed up though. I'll have to check into that.
At 5:30, I was standing in the parking lot talking to Schimmele, when Tommy Bommarito walked up and said hello. He looked a little weather worn, but otherwise fine. His job these days is to stand near freeway exits or entrances while holding a sign proclaiming he was a homeless person who needed food or cash donations... preferably cash. His sign also lets the passing folks know that he is diabetic.
He tells me that he pulls in about forty five dollars a day, tax free. A lot more than I make. He let me know some of the trade secrets, like the need to look ragged, so people will believe that you're actually homeless, but not to ragged, or they will be afraid to come near you and pass you right by.
Tommy's not even really homeless. He lives in a sober living house not too far from the center.
He told me that he sees Reuben Perez every once in a while. Reuben's not doing as well as Tommy is. Reuben lives in an abandoned house close to where Tommy lives.
Reuben of course is also diabetic, just like Tommy, but Reuben doesn't seem to be taking care of himself. He's a physical wreck, Tommy told me, skinnier than he is, and that's very thin. One of Reuben's arms is paralyzed. He refuses to seek help.
For most of us the road is a rough one until we seek help. Even after that it's still rough for a time.
Tommy soon left to catch a bus, and I returned to my lonely room to watch a repeat episode of "Star Trek, the Next Generation." Capt. Picard got laid in this one.
Good for him.

September 3 Tuesday Day 357

Good old Jim Docken and Hobart Rodgers took off again this morning. They got the itch and had to hit the streets one more time. They left Eddie Acuna behind this time, thank God. They must have thought he would have slowed them down.
Or Eddie's gaining some sense.
My friend Carlos Noble became an employee a week or so ago. He's the dock foreman now. The same position he held when I first met him in Canoga park almost two years ago. He should do well. He's experienced, and is familiar with the in-house politics of the Salvation Army.
At least he's not a driver, though I've seen an awful lot of dock foremen come and go.
Wayne Dubois, on the other hand, became a driver, or had become a driver, because he was fired today for refusing to pick up a doner's select garbage, telling the doner he didn't have the time and he'd have to schedule another pick up. I guess he was in a hurry to get somewhere. The doner was rather upset over this turn of events (quite often doners will take time off work, or their busy lifestyle activities, in order to be home when the truck arrives to pick up their trash), and called our dispatch office and filed a complaint. Now Wayne is a beneficiary again.
Reuben Smith's tan is fading. At least that's what I keep telling him him. It drives him crazy.
I call him snowball.
I had a good morning while working. Got everything ship-shape in the office, then wrote a lot.
I exercised in the weight room after work, then watched an interview of a KGB officer on PBS in my lonely room.
I sat with Richard Bennet at dinner. He said I looked much happier then I had for the last couple of weeks. He had been worried about me. I let him know I had been a little preoccupied lately, but that I was alright now.
Ups and downs. Our lives are filled with ups and downs. The trick in life is to try to keep the amplitude down to a minimum.
I told Richard that I felt fine and that I had good things to look forward to. School was coming up soon, and a year's sobriety the next week. I told him I had already memorized what I would say when I took my cake for 1 year.
"You'll forget it," he said. "You'll be lucky to get out, 'Keep coming back!'"
I watched "Star Trek, the Next Generation," and then read. At 8:00 "Nova," came on channel 28, the PBS channel. The show involved the 1989 Neptune (and it's cool moon (about 35 degrees above absolute zero) Triton) flyby of the Voyager 2 spacecraft. The program was narrated by Patrick Stewart, who of course plays Capt. Picard on "Star Trek, the Next Generation." You know, the guy who got laid yesterday.
I read some more, and munched unauthorized tortilla chips.
At 11:00, Part 3 of "The Mind," series came on channel 28 again. It discussed how aging affects the mental processes, and how each of us (human type people) are affected differently by growing older. Alzheimer's disease was mentioned.
I thought about my grandmother.
I think I could suffer anything except losing my mind. It's the only thing I think with!
Use it or lose it I guess.
If I were to lose my mind, would I know, would I realize that it was happening?
Have I lost my mind already?
Am I now totally insane without realizing that this is the case?
I must consider this.

September 4 Wednesday Day 358

A good day. Lots of things done. Like my laundry. Got that out of the way for another week. Very important.
I spent my morning (because it is mine) taking care of the usual paperwork, writing, securing janitorial supplies, and sitting with the man from Abbott Laboratories, who had come to service the ADx machine. We'd been having some problems with it. In the end he replaced a lamp and told me that everything would be okay now. Or hunky dory. I had no way of testing his supposition however, because Abbott had been late shipping us the reagent chemicals we need to operate the machine. In the mean time I'm up to my ears in what is getting to be some very stale urine.
I did my laundry, as I've said, in the afternoon. I also exercised, read from the Bible and the co-dependency book that Cathy had lent to me. I also searched about half of the lockers looking for errant towels. Found some too.
Counselor Charity made a rare appearance tonight at chapel. Barbara was there to. And after chapel... Cathy.
She was a tad upset that Ron Collins had excused himself from her caseload so abruptly. She told me she felt kind of abandoned. Well, that's Ron for you, the Heartbreak Kid. Ed Reitz gave her a whole bunch of new clients to help ease her abandonment crisis. A white supremacist, a young black man who considers himself that upon which the universe pivots (how absurd, when in actuality I am the center of said universe), another man who was in need of a Big Book, and her regular, Ron Cooper. She was kept nice and busy.
After she was finished we had a nice talk. Then she left. We waved to each other as she drove off.

September 5 Thursday Day 359

In difference to Mr. Steinbeck's contention that Thursday's are sweet, in my opinion, these particular days of the week, which come around with sickening regularity, suck. Almost nothing good ever happens to me on Thursdays.
Wednesdays aren't all that hot either, but at least Cathy comes to complicate my life and confuse me.
At least there's that!
Just after lunch I had to break up a fight between two of my desk men, Columbus Davis and Gene Mance. They were calling each other "nigger," and stuff like that (it's probably a good thing that they're both black). Ridicules. I never did find out what it was about.
Just as things settled down I noticed a civilian standing at the desk. I asked him if I could help him, and he told me he was our next door neighbor. He said that every time his wife opened her kitchen door to let some air in, our gardener, Don Robinson, would sit down a few feet away, smoke cigarettes and stare at her. He told me it was getting to be annoying. I could belive that.
I went with him outside and around the building, and sure enough, there was Don, squatting against the side of the residence, smoking, and looking right into the lady's kitchen. I chased him away, directing him to not use that particular spot for a smoke break anymore.
The ADx guy came out again. After running some controls he told me the machine was fixed... again. After he left I ran some samples using the cocaine assays, and got the same "Insufficient Reagent" message I had gotten before. This time from a brand new pack of reagents, so I had to call the Abbott customer service center in Dallas to have the technician come out again.
Meanwhile, the urine accumulates and ripens.
We had to clamp down a bit on all of the contraband coming in the front door when the boys come home from work. They're taking advantage of the fact that Corona and Parsons are letting them have underwear for personal use, and bringing it over directly from the warehouse to the residence. Today when they came back I had Columbus confiscate all of the T-shirts the guys carried in. We discovered that they were not only bringing back underwear, but various types of white polo shirts with collars, white T-shirts with printed pictures and lettering, and numerous other items as well that couldn't quite qualify as undies.
Naughty boys.
I had taken Roger Collins to and from the hospital before lunch so he would be ready to open the canteen at 4:00. At 5:15 he came to tell me he couldn't walk on his foot and wouldn't be able to work. Roger is a pain in the ass. Ed McNicol was not around, so I had Jack Crossley work in the canteen.
Jack did a good job really.
Ed Reitz came over after dinner to tell Anthony Rutherford that he had one week to make arrangements to move out. Anthony, at any given time, has half of the house ready to kill him. Anthony has a certain disdain for social interaction.
The evening's meetings went well. About fifty guys crowded into the small T.V. room for the CA panel when two sharp looking ladies showed up as the speakers.
Later I ran cannabinoid tests on all of my urine samples to at least get something done with all of the yellow fluid. Cocaine remains the only test giving me problems.
Richard Bennet left late after finishing his counseling sessions. "Each one took a long time tonight," he let me know.
"You mean they actually had some issues and problems they're trying to deal with?" I asked.
"I hate that when that happens."
He smiled, and said, "So do I."
I went to the canteen near curfew time and... er... borrowed forever, two eggrolls from the leftover late dinners, heated them in the microwave and consumed them
And at 10:48P.M. exactly, I drank my last cup of coffee.
I'm giving it up.
After Eddie Gillespie came to relieve me I went to my room and switched on channel 28. I watched Part 5 of "The Mind," concerning pain and healing. My feet began to hurt while watching it, so I turned it off and went to sleep.

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