Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Salvation Diary Forty One

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

July 9 Tuesday Day 301

Three hundred days! Sixty five, or there abouts to go.
Back to work this morning.
Oh boy!
Clarence Orion and Ed Reitz both asked me if I had been an employee while at the Van Nuys Center. I hadn't been of course. I was only there a mere forty five days. The day before they threw me out I was offered a job as an assistant dispatcher which could have turned into an payroll job, but that's as far as it went. The next day Major Engels gave me the boot for something I didn't do, and I made my way to the Americana Theater in Panorama City (a movie theater I'd gone to throughout my teens) to watch "Die Hard 2," and suck down a bottle of tequila.
I wonder why they asked that question.? Oh well, both of them said it wasn't important.
I wrote in the morning, and went about my daily routine without difficulty. In the afternoon I found time to re-read some excerpts from James Mills, "The Underground Empire," a fascinating expose of the world of the international drug trafficker. I highly recommend this book, and will talk about again later this week.
Just as I got off work one of the maintenance people ran a snake through a drain somewhere which generated the most foul smelling stink that permeated throughout the entire building. I hid away in my lonely room until the air cleared.
After "Star Trek, the Next Generation," I retired to the canteen for a cool cheeseburger. Jill was there, talking with Luis Rublacava. We did not converse.
I returned upstairs after my cheeseburger to watch the 8:00 channel 5 movie, "Critters 2, the Main Course." This of course is the sequel to "Critters," both films concerning the hair brained antics of a brood of carnivorous alien, ex-con, porcupine balls, that roll around and eat people. This film gave me a feeling of nostalgia actually. I thought back when I first saw "Critters." Many of the original cast members from the first film were in the sequel, and I couldn't help but think about how much their life had changed (and if they were aware of the change) since the making of the first film. How they must have felt coming back to it once again. I felt that somehow my fate was intermingled...
Oh shit, the first time I viewed "Critters," I was sitting in my apartment drunk, and high on pot. I don't even remember it... except that it was silly.
Like the sequel.
I turned off the T.V. after watching "Nightline," and thought about Kathy. Perhaps I'd have a chance to talk to her tomorrow.

July 10 Wednesday Day 302

Gerald Schimmele has now taken over as the first floor janitor for Russell Burke who has gone back east to visit his ailing father.
While Jerry was vacuuming the elevator this morning he let the automatic door close on him while he continued to work in the small space, never once anticipating Curtis Carter summoning the elevator from the basement, making it descended, with Jerry still in it, and a vacuum cleaner still very much attached to the first floor.
Actually those vacuum cleaner electrical cords stretch quite a bit before parting with a noticeable "TWAAANNNGGGG!"
Dennis Smith came by to pick up his stuff. I hadn't seen him for awhile and was beginning to worry about him. He is at Grandview, a small, residential recovery home. Very intensive program I hear. He seems happy about it, that's the main thing.
Andre Laws just got kicked out of there, Dennis told me.
I did get to talk to Kathy. I must admit I got a bit nervous thinking about her coming tonight, preoccupied you might say. I forgot to place the flowers on the chapel alter, and to open the bathrooms on the third floor for the evening services... among other things.
She looked very pretty wearing a blue blouse with white pants. When she first arrived we said hello, and everything. I wanted to tell her how nice I thought she looked, but Rockoff kept interrupting me. He would continue to do that for the rest of the night.
I found out that today was her 3 year sobriety anniversary. 3 years ago today she quit drinking. She must be an alcoholic (like me) because she said, "Three years without a drink."
Then she ran off to consul Ron Cooper. I didn't get to say all that much really. I waited around the desk all night (making both of my desk men a little crazy) waiting for her to finish with her three clients so I could have the opportunity to speak further with her. She spends a lot of time with each of her clients, a sure sign of a caring, sincere, inexperienced counselor.
Just as I began to think I wouldn't get a chance to talk to her again, and getting really depressed about it, she finished with her last client, documented her sessions in the counseling books, and prepared to leave. She smiled at me and said goodbye on the way out, and I figured I better say something then and there or else it would be another week with no progress made. Another long week before seeing her again.
"Alright, see you next week," I said. "Both Rons (Collins and Cooper) tell me you've been very helpful to them (that's true. They have told me that), so you're very appreciated around here." That's true too.
"Oh really," she smiled. "That's good to hear. I wasn't really sure. Rod Trujillo seems to have been avoiding me." Ron Trujillo's an idiot.
I congratulated her again on her 3 years, and said her anniversary reminded me I had 300 days today. She asked what day it was that I got sober, and about my employment here. I let her know that it was my intention to continue working in the drug rehabilitation field, so my job here was beneficial in that regard. She asked if I had ever thought about taking some drug education classes, and I told her that indeed, I had, that I would be starting at P.C.C. in September. She told me about some of the course offerings at Glendale Community College, showing me some of the school pamphlets she happened to have with her. Our conversation progressed from there.
We talked for about ten minutes. Well, she did most of the talking really. To be frank, I could hardly get a word in edgewise. But I was glad to listen, and I discovered some interesting things about her.
She's about as religious as I am, which is to say, not very much. She was hesitant to begin counseling here due to her preconceived ideas of the spiritual aspect of the program. She didn't want to get Christianed out. She has since reconsidered. She now knows that we don't overdo it. That we're not a bunch of monks (far from it). She does believe in God, in a higher power. She says she's "all for it" (God and all), but doesn't feel the need to demonstrate it all over the place.
She began drug counseling school when she was only two months sober, and never really intended to become a counselor. She likes coming to the center. She just got a good job she likes, working for Warner Brothers, the movie studio. She doesn't think she wants to stop working there.
I found her thoroughly fascinating.
I was being interrupted all the time I was talking to her. Guys kept coming in and I would have to breath test them. Kevin Rockoff asked me for change. "Later," I told him.
When I did leave I reminded her to drive carefully, and that I would see her again next week.
She got cornered by a new client with red hair on the way to her car. He kept her in conversation for a while. I waved to her when she finally drove off.
She waved back.

July 11 Thursday Day 303

Close to 10:30 this morning the new moon became aligned with the Earth and the Sun. The moon was in the middle. It also crossed the Earth's orbital plane. thus blocking the Sun's light, and casting the Moon's shadow upon that portion of the Earth's surface that happened to be facing the Sun at the time. This happens every once in a while. Nothing to get worried about.
Today's solar eclipse would not cause a period of total darkness here in Pasadena. That would only happen on the big island of Hawaii, parts of Baja California, Central America, and Brazil. The Moon would only partially block the Sun's light here, about 68% I believe. The Sun would still be able to leak some out to us.
I walked out front at 10:45, put on my sunglasses and looked at the eclipse for about thirty minutes. Sure enough the Moon appeared as a black disk against the Sun, making the Sun appear as a crescent.
I first noticed I was blind when I attempted to reenter the residence on my way to eat lunch (hot turkey sandwiches).
I walked into several walls, and continued to bump into things well into the night.

July 12 Friday Day 304

This morning I received my first paycheck in almost two years. One hundred and fifty cold, hard, smackaroos, and some change. This for one week's work. I also get room and board.
Robert gave me a ride to the Bank of America on Colorado Blvd. That's where the Salvation Army does it's banking, so there would be no problem for me to cash my pay check there. Robert banks there as well. Indeed, he had intended to deposit his own check, but after arriving in the bank's parking lot he remembered he had neglected to bring it with him.
He left me there (Abandoned. He had other pressing engagements), and I cashed my check and walked back to the residence.
After lunch (cheeseburgers) I wrote for an hour, then went to the park to lie in the sun and listen to classic rock and roll.
I took my second shower of the day when I returned, then got ready for work.
Which went well. Work that is. After the usual Friday afternoon madness, after new client orientation, and after I put up the stupid bar in the thrift store parking lot, I read from James Mills, "The Underground Empire," and the extraordinary organization, "Centac," who's sole mission was to destroy drug trafficking organizations from the top down using RICO laws directed against criminal conspiracies. Fascinating.

July 13 Saturday Day 305

Last night was Art Svensk's last as our relief night watchman. He will be going into full retirement as of 8:00 this morning.
"They're out there, you know," Art told me as he came in last night.
"Who's out there, Art?"
"Crazy people. They're out there."
That's why Art's retiring. Because of all of the crazy people who are out there. Or at least that's one of the reasons.
What Art is concerned about, why he's worried about the crazy people, he's afraid of getting mugged as he walks here to work from the Green Hotel. I can't say as I blame him.
I shook his hand and told him it had been a pleasure working with him (which was true. People like Art make life interesting). I wished him luck, and told him I'd see him at the movies.
I slept until lunch today. At lunch I sat with George Estrada. Originally from El Salvador, George is an athletic young man in his middle thirties. He has a wife and two children. He had worked as a life guard for several years, he told me. He was suited for the job. He ran daily, worked out regularly, and had in fact been a finishing runner in the L.A. Marathon for several years.
He said he had snorted cocaine on occasion, but didn't seem to have any problems controlling its use.
Until crack came along.
Once George began to smoke crack he became hopelessly addicted and within two months his drug use adversely affected every aspect of his life; family, work, career ambitions... everything. None of those things mattered to him anymore. The only thing of importance in his life became the procuring of another rock to smoke.
An honest person by nature, George explained to his boss why he had been missing so much work, telling him of his addiction. Fortunately, his boss is a member of the Pasadena Tabernacle Band, and he introduced George to the A.R.C. George didn't like it here at first. He didn't like being told what to do all of the time, so he left after only a few days, telling himself that he would kick the crack habit on his own. After a week or two he came back, a little more motivated to do well, and has been here for almost six months.
George is getting ready to graduate, and looking forward to going to school to learn a new trade. He wants to become an underwater welder.
We do have a few success stories around here.
I wish him well.
After lunch I went to the park for an hour, then came back. I took a nice shower, got dressed, then walked to Music Plus to pick up the weekend's video blockbusters. "Dick Tracy," and "Kindergarten Cop."
Then I began my last shift of the week.
Richard Bennet popped in for a while. As I was talking to him I realized I had ten months clean and sober (except for nicotine, caffeine, and cholesterol) today.
Ten months.
Tom Rotsch seems to have a family very similar to my own. He went to see his two kids today, and after he returned he told me how his little girl cutely let him know that his breath stinks, while his son told him he was going bald.
He loves his children and smiled at the memory.
I'm afraid that I must report that I've been a little devious lately. Since Kathy has told me that she's helping her clients work through the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I have told both Ron Collins and Ron Cooper (her clients) that I would also be willing to help them if they should have any questions concerning the Steps when she is not around. Of course, it is true that I'm willing to help anybody if I can. But the idea of my completely altruistic offer getting back to Kathy, and thus creating a favorable impression, did have certain appealing overtones.
I'm so bad.
So here I am now. In real time it is 11:02PM and 36 seconds. I'm sitting in my office writing this. Kevin Rockoff and Roger Collins are both behind the desk reading. Roger's on duty, Kevin's just hanging out. It's been a quiet shift. I've spent most of the evening reading a Dean Koontz novel, "Night Chills." Pretty soon Wolf Pandolfi will lumber in, and my shift will come to an end. I'll go up to my lonely room and watch two episodes of "The New Twilight Zone," then maybe "The Outer Limits," on channel seven. After that I'll sleep. But before I finally do that I'll do what I've found myself doing almost every night lately. I'll think about Kathy.
And I'll be very relaxed and sleep very well.

July 14 Sunday Day 306

I was once again called upon to deliver the responsive reading section during the morning's chapel service. My voice did not quiver.
I was a little tired though. I had gotten plenty of sleep last night, at least six hours, so I didn't know what my problem was.
I was looking forward to going to the A.A. meeting this morning with Ron Collins, mainly because I had missed it last week due to the picnic. Robert gave us a ride and it was awfully good to be there. Skip greeted us, and the meeting was a good one. It didn't hurt to have so many pretty ladies around (especially the bespectacled brunette).
Girls. I like girls... or women. I don't know why. I'm so glad they share the planet with us men. I wouldn't want to be a girl, but I'm glad they're here.
Men are so boring.
Ron and I passed by the tiny restaurant, Los Tacos, on our way back. I treated him to a couple of soft tacos, and I had some enchiladas. It's so nice to be able to buy things. It certainly provides a different perspective.
I spent another hour in the park. The radio people played the entire side 2 of Led Zeppelin's "The Houses of the Holy." Very good.
Dinner, then a repeat episode of "Star Trek, the Next Generation," after which I secured a seat for the Sunday night VCR movie, "Kindergarten Cop."
I didn't quite know what to make of this film, which seemed just a vehicle to throw Arnold Schwarzenegger in amongst a plethora of little kids to see how he reacts. Oddly enough, those scenes were brief and ineffective. A little action, a few hard sought after laughs... all in all it was somewhat engaging.
I spent most of the rest of the evening up in my lonely room, reading, and watching silly things on television.
I turned off the T.V. early and went to bed. Tomorrow it would be time to move on in the Steps, and that would require a long bus ride so I wanted to get up nice and early.
I dreamt of Barbara Eden and Mother Teresa.

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