Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Salvation Diary Four

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

October 19 Friday Day 37
Apparently my request for another parakeet has been rejected. I had filled out a parakeet purchase order:
ITEM: REPLACEMENT PARAKEET – BLUE (Melopsittacus undulates)
$17.00 - $25.00
Mr. Vasquez called me over.
“Mr. Joyce, a word with you please. What’s this parakeet psychological stuff? Don’t make waves. I’m just waiting for the other one to kick off. Request denied. And don’t go saying anything to the Major! I got rid of the fish, you know!”
Under the circumstances I’m left with only two alternatives. Do nothing, and hope that the Major will rectify the situation all on his own; or buy a bird myself and donate it to the center, anonymously perhaps. For the time being I can only do nothing.
A lady came in at about mid-shift complaining that one of our ex-clients was abusing her nineteen-year-old daughter. I felt sorry for her, but there was nothing we could do for her. The center is not responsible for the people who leave here, nor are we responsible for their conduct outside of the residence. How could we be? We suggested she contact the police.
Alcoholics and drug addicts are just like everybody else, except they happen to be alcoholics and drug addicts. There are good ones and there are bad ones. Well adjusted and maladjusted. Some people are sicker than others.
A couple of empty bottles of whiskey were found in Rodolfo’s locker today. This was the second time he’d left the center due to resumption of usage. I wish him a quick return to sanity, and peace for his family.
October 20 Saturday Day 38
I don’t believe I slept more that thirty minutes last night. For some reason I just couldn’t nod off. Worried about Esmerelda, I guess. I kept doing the Toss and Turn Fandango.
I forgot about running this morning, or even going to Union Station. I did manage to lose a game of video chess, and after lunch I went to the Thrift Store, and looked for possible gifts for my family for the upcoming holiday season.
Work was boring. Victor thinks I’m his boy.
I called my mom at about ten-thirty. No change, everything is still hunky dory.
I caught a guy who had come in after drinking tonight. He blew a .10 on the Breath-a-lizer. I told Victor about it, and he had to throw the guy out. I didn’t particularly enjoy doing it. I had been in this man’s position once. I knew what it was like to be thrown out and be put on the street. But I have had to look at it realistically. It was now my job to help enforce the rules of the house and center. I did not force this man to drink, and he knew that if he came back and blew dirty he would be asked to leave. If he’s drinking, even though he knows he may loss the roof over his head, he may more than likely have a drinking problem and the sooner he knows about it the better. Lastly, I wouldn’t be doing him a favor by letting him get away with drinking around here. That would be tantamount to enabling him to further progress into his disease, prolonging it, worsening it, making eventual recovery that much more difficult. I won’t do that.
As with Rodolfo, I wish this man well.
October 21 Sunday Day 39
I got up at ten minutes to five and ran around the park a couple of times. I was back by five-twenty, showered and dressed, and was at work by five-fifty.
Then I spent 95% of the next 17 hours behind the desk. Charles Perry, who was to relieve me at two-thirty, had been on an emergency pass for the last two nights. He was supposed to be back last night before curfew, but had called, asked for and received an extension good until his shift started this afternoon. He had been visiting his mother in the hospital, he told us. This is the second emergency pass Charles has taken, since I’ve been here, to visit his poor, sick, mother.
Such a good son.
He called me today at one-thirty, and hour before he was to relieve me, to say that he would be in sometime tonight.
Very good of him.
I had they distinct honor and pleasure of working his shift.
Let tell you why I love life so much…
October 23 Monday Day 40
I slept until ten-thirty because I was such a tired fellow. But I was refreshed. I told myself that I had no time to run, or exercise, which was a big lie. I still felt good though. I felt good even after losing another game of video chess. I did manage to get a lot of reading done before I went to work.
I continued to feel good while at work. It all went very nicely because it was very busy, not like yesterday when time stood still. I had my five counselors to deal with, Bible study, and group counseling. The time flied.
We discussed historical biblical figures during Bible study. Isaac, Moses, and Noah, to be exact. It was a good review. I had forgotten who Isaac was.
We sort of discussed stress management in group counseling. Another good review.
The only other interesting event of the evening happened when we attempted to get a urine sample from an Hispanic gentleman, who had been throwing up all over the place last Saturday night. He has been telling us that he hasn’t been able to pee for the last 48 hours. I’m afraid I didn’t believe him. I don’t think Mr. Vasquez did either.
Somehow this guy snuck in and lifted his key, last Saturday, without me seeing him. He won’t do it again, not while I’m on duty at least.
Anyway, he was given an ultimatum. Either pee tonight, or be terminated for refusing to take a drug test.
He waited until Mr. Vasquez went on his rounds, then asked me for a cup and went into the head. He returned with his lukewarm sample a short time later. I couldn’t leave the desk to watch him provide the sample, and so couldn’t be sure it was genuine. We shall see.
October 23 Tuesday Day 41
I just couldn’t drag myself from bed at five o’clock when my alarm went off. I just couldn’t do it.
I tried, but I just couldn’t do it!
My peepers were cemented together.
So I slept on for another hour, and at six, I pried open those peepers, and turned on my little nightlight, successfully pissing off everybody else in the darkened dorm, and began reading from the Bible.
After a chapter or two, I made a decision and acted upon it.
I got up.
Then I dressed. Having accomplished this, I felt guilty and angry with myself for not having the where-with-all to get out of bed earlier.
I added this onto my list of things to feel guilty and angry about (I’m up to the eighth volume), then went down to have some nice cereal for breakfast.
Fruit Loops.
After devotions I went to Union Station. They are getting used to seeing me there now. I don’t ever say anything to anybody, or share during the meetings, but they are getting used to seeing me. I sit in my chair and chuckle every once in a while.
This meeting is really good for my head. It’s so unpretentious, it’s almost shocking. I remember a television show with sweetie Sarah Purcell (oh, where is she now?!), called “Real People.” I never saw anything like this on it.
I feel like singing and dancing every time I leave this meeting!
When I got back, I went to say hello to Noah, the parrot. Noah is just fine. She gets very excited now, and makes the strangest noises when I come around. Then I mimic her. She doesn’t know what to make of that.
Not to change the subject, but when I think about it I often marvel at what a magnificent organ the brain is. What indiscriminate pieces of information it retains.
I played a game of video chess, and lost badly. This is getting to be a habit.
I worked out for a half an hour, then went running to make up for this morning, and so I wouldn’t feel guilty and angry anymore. As I completed my second lap around the park, I had a little trouble catching my breath. I attributed this to the heat. No big deal.
I guess the Hispanic guy did give me a genuine urine sample last night. It was dirty. Cocaine. He doesn’t live here anymore.
I returned to the residence and wrote, ate lunch (tuna), then went back to the park to lie in the sun and think about what I should do tomorrow, then went back to the residence, took a shower and put it back, read and wrote, ate dinner, wrote some more, finished writing, went to Step Study class, learned all about the first three steps of Alcoholics Anonymous again (I know Al’s whole speech by heart now), read, checked out the female counselors who work on Tuesday nights, and went to the outside A.A. meeting in South Pasadena.
The leader of the meeting was Sue, a beautiful girl, probably born in Sri Lanka. Quite unsurprisingly, her complexion was rather dark. I’ve noticed her before. She actually smiled at me at one point. I can’t remember the last time a girl smiled at me for no reason.
She’s a heartbreaker, no doubt about it.
The speaker was very interesting. I thought he would be a dud, but it turned out rather well. His name was Joe, an ex-hippie, somewhere around his mid-forties, I’d say. I could relate to his story. He had been thrown out of an entire country (Ireland). I had only been thrown out of a state (Arizona. My mom packed me up, bought me a ticket, and made sure I got on the bus to L.A. “Good luck,” she said).
Later in bed, I read a little from Stephen King’s novel, Misery, a very well written piece of work. Very interesting. Then I went to sleep, anticipating all the neat stuff I’m going to be doing tomorrow.
October 24 Wednesday Day 42
I dragged myself out of bed this morning and went running while listening to the Eagle’s tell me how life in the fast lane will really make me blow my mind. I came back and read the paper. The stuff in the Middle East is still dawdling on and on. Looking at the movies playing around town, none interested me.
I had been thinking about visiting a Buddhist temple, or church, as I am interested in learning first hand about this religion. All I know of it I have learned from books. I imagine there must be one downtown somewhere (there’s one of everything downtown), and I’ll be going there next week, so I’ll check it out then.
Today we had eggs over easy for breakfast. I allowed myself to eat them as long as I cut out the yoke, which has all the yucky cholesterol. I know, it’s my favorite part too, but the whole point of eating is to stay alive and healthy, right?
The usual crowd gathered at Union Station. The subject of the meeting being making amends to those we alcoholics and drug addicts have hurt in the past (Step 9). Most of us got to talking about how hard and scary that would be when we finally got around to doing it. A man by the name of Dennis, said this, “As usual I seem to look at things from a slightly different point of view. We all seem to concentrate on how hard it will be when we have to face the people we have harmed because of our behavior. But I’m thinking of all the benefits we will receive once we have attempted to do so. The freedom from guilt and worry, peace. The chance to start fresh, with all the garbage from the past behind us. That my friends, is worth having.”
I agree. As for myself, most of those I have hurt I’ll never be able to find.
After the meeting I went back and said hello to Noah. Noah was fine.
I lost a game of video chess. I exercised for about a half an hour. While doing that I decided to skip lunch, and relished the thought of all those unconsumed calories.
It was ten-oh five when I finished, and I knew that the movie, “Atlantic City,” with an aging Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon had started at ten, so I commandeered one of the video game TV’s, and watched it. A very good film, four star. I began playing video chess with the other set while watching it (a sure sign of addiction). I won for about the first time in three weeks.
I started another game and won that too.
I now know the secret of video chess. It’s either that Burt Lancaster, or more likely the lovely Susan Sarandon, has a detrimental and disconcerting affect on neighboring video machines, or the trick is not to concentrate very hard.
I played to a draw on the third game, and so quit while ahead.
I went out to the park to lie in the sun. I was beginning to get dark. I thought of myself with melanoma.
While watching “Star Trek, the Next Generation” (This one about another of Wesley’s experiments gone awry. He managed to zap his poor suffering mother into a warp field bubble. They should beam this kid into a supernova), this evening, Victor came by on his rounds and gave me a hard time about using the video TV’s, even while no one else was there. He didn’t make me turn it off, but did manage to irritate the hell out of me.
I began thinking about how it was a year ago when I had my old apartment, when I could, and quite often did, stay up all night watching T.V. (the epitome of couch potatoeness), when I had privacy, when I could eat whenever I wanted, smoke whenever I wanted, and drink whenever I wanted. I isolated myself pretty well in those days.
Then I thought that I wanted those things again, and I wasn’t doing anything to get them back by sitting around here.
All this thinking left me with an nostalgic emptiness, and thinking about nostalgic emptiness’s led me to think about how to fill it, and I knew the answer to that one. Alcohol would fill it up real well. I’d feel just great with a few shots in me.
You see, this is how the process of relapse begins. One of the ways, at least. It’s about forgetting the bad times, and glamorizing the parts we tricked ourselves into believing were good (euphoric recall). Having been through this process a few times in the past I could recognize it for what it was, and hopefully counteract its progress by remembering that the past wasn’t so great. I remembered the sleepless nights, the puking my guts out, the loneliness and uncertainty, how miserable I had been. The lies I had to tell.
I lost that apartment, that job, that girlfriend, by doing the very thing I had just been contemplating. Taking a drink. One would be enough, because an alcoholic can’t have just one drink. I thought about what would happen if I had just one drink.
I would be back in the Park almost instantaneously.
I didn’t what to go back there, so I thought about what I was doing here, and I knew that I was okay. That I was doing what was best for me, and exactly what I needed to be doing right now. The slow and sure path. The harder path. Too many times my impatience had tried to destroy me. I could not let that happen.
So I calmed down. My life was bound to get better if I was patient.
You see how easy it is to fall back. How insidious this disease can be, and is. It is very often like this. That it’s not the major crisis’s of life, the deaths, the divorces, job losses, that foul us (although they can, and certainly do), but the little frustrations and stresses that can quite literally tear us apart. The simple fact that Victor was being Victor could have gotten me back in the Park. Anything could.
I need to be constantly vigilant, for I know that unlike myself at times, my disease is always patient and waiting.
October 25 Thursday Day 43
I slept until nine, or so. For some reason I’m having a heck of a time getting up in the morning. When I was drinking I never had any problems at all getting up. I had wanted that first drink and cigarette of the day too much. But I’ve had trouble lately, and this throws off my whole schedule, which in turn increases my general stress level, which I don’t need but I think I can handle.
My schedule mucked up, I found some time to lie in the sun and do some reading before cleaning up and getting ready for work.
Which was kind of fun today, because I got to work with Jack Crosley for the first time. He and Charles had traded shifts it seems.
Jack is an interesting young man, very quiet and stern, but I’ve seen him break into a smile every now and then. He is the senior deskman, having been here longer than Charles, myself, and Victor, about nine months in all. He reads about a book a day, all fantasy and Sci-Fi stuff. He has a peculiar habit of making little grunting sounds, gurgling out of his belly, as he walks. He is short, with dark hair, with a facial scar that runs from the corner of his mouth to his ear lobe. I have heard rumors of Jack experiencing a great personal tragedy in his past, something about his wife and children being murdered. He talks little though, and nothing about himself. I like him, although he is hard to get close to. He at least helps me do some of the work around here, unlike some others I could mention, who will remain nameless.
The luscious Stacy is not coming in this evening. She is supposedly cramming for her midterms. All of us at the Salvation Army’s Pasadena Adult Rehabilitation Center wish her much success.
We discussed the myths vs. facts of alcohol and drugs in tonight’s substance abuse seminar, and the A.A. panel was made interesting due to the lively and uninhibited discourse of the two female panelists. One of these was a flight attendant who had worked for PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines). I talked to her after the meeting, and we reminisced about the 1978 PSA crash in San Diego, which I had almost been on.
Yet once again, I had escaped the yawning jaws of death.
Alas, the end of another day approached. Tomorrow I would go back to County Hospital.
October 26 Friday Day 44
Well, the day started out good enough, but then I woke up.
After that it was all down hill.
I had a dream about a dog. The dog was running around and I was trying to catch it. We were playing. I had the feeling that we were friends, this dog and I. As in real life, when a sock, or some such object of woven material is thrown, a dog will run like the devil, grab it in it’s teeth, bring it straight back, and when you attempt to get it back from him (or her), it won’t let go. You can tug, pull, plead, coerce, but it won’t let go. It’s playing.
Thus “Tug-Of-War” was born.
My dream dog wouldn’t let me catch it.
For some reason this dream was oddly comforting to me, and I did not want to let it go.
So I continued to sleep, or tried to. I woke briefly every now and then, and I would think to myself that I really should be getting up. I had told myself that I would go running this morning.
Time kept passing.
I even tried to talk myself into not going to the dermatologist, but I couldn’t quite do it.
I got up and made it down to breakfast, which I ate, scrambled eggs and everything. I reasoned that I would be missing lunch today, so it was alright to eat eggs. Cholesterol be damned!
After devotions I checked out of the residence and walked to the bus stop on Fair Oaks. I didn’t feel like sitting down, so I stood while waiting. It was seven-thirty six, and my appointment was for nine, and I only had the one bus to take, so I should have had plenty of time, although I had no idea when the next bus would arrive.
A longhaired, disheveled fellow in dirty jeans stopped and waited with me. Not so long ago I had looked just like he did.
After about ten minutes a bus came. Of the two buses that stopped here, this was the wrong one. This bus wouldn’t go anywhere near County Hospital. Unless hijacked. It stopped, let someone out, then continued on its way.
After another five minutes another bus came. It was the right bus this time, the 483. It was jammed with people, like a can of Vienna sausages, so instead of stopping it passed me right by, laughing as it did so. I felt intense anger. I looked up Fair Oaks, as the bus stopped at the next street, California Ave. It let a whole bunch of people off there. I decided to walk over to that stop, thinking I’d have a better chance to catch the next bus. I began worrying about being late for my appointment now, knowing that the buses typically run thirty minute apart.
As I was half way to the next stop, another, relatively empty, 483, passed me right by. I felt now like killing something.
I finally managed to get on a bus about twenty minute later, and made it to the dermatologist by nine-oh two.
They asked me to take a seat. I had my Stephen King book to keep me company, so I sat on a long cement bench, with about a billion other patients.
At eleven-thirty my name was called over the P.A. system, directing me to door D. I slid the door closed behind me. It was sliding door, like in a warehouse, but much smaller. A young man looked in from another door, and asked me if I’d ever been here before. I told him yes, that I had, last June. He told me he’d be right back. I said, okay.
He came back with my file. I told him about my rash, that it was a lot better now, but that I’d still like a doctor to look at it, and that I wanted some more medication. That’s how us alcoholics and addicts are. We always want more medication. It doesn’t matter which kind.
He looked at it and said it was healing well. He told me he’d give me more ointment. I had him look at my feet while I was there. He did this.
He asked me if I had a lot of dandruff.
I answered, “Yeah, I have recently. I had been using cheap soap on my hair, but now I’m using some dandruff shampoo and that seems to be working.”
“Are you in any of the high risk groups for AIDS?” he asked.
I replied, “No,” and swallowed painfully.
“Have you had any homosexual encounters in the past?”
“Have you been with any prostitutes recently?”
I said, “No, I haven’t. Why?”
“Why? Because flaking of the scalp is one of the symptoms of the AIDS related syndrome. But you’re not in any of the high-risk groups, are you? So there’s nothing much to worry about. People get dandruff all the time, you know.”
He told me to wait outside and someone would call me when my prescription slips were ready.
Not surprisingly, I got to thinking about what he had told me. He scared the hell out of me.
I thought about a time around early August, when I had a one time casual sexual encounter with this girl I had met in a bar. I had been drunk, and probably wouldn’t have had anything to do with her if I had been in my right mind. Not necessarily sober, but in my right mind. That had been at the beginning of my living on the street period, and I wasn’t used to it yet. I would drink and talk to anybody, just for the company. One thing led to another. She may have been using a dirty needle, or had been sleeping with somebody who had the disease. The point was that I did not know.
Now I was thinking, oh shit, do I have it?! I had had that horrible dandruff and thought my hair was falling out. I had attributed it to the soap I had used upon entering the center, and now the Head and Shoulders seemed to be working, but my dandruff still must have been noticeable for the doctor to see it.
I thought, this is just great, just what I fucking need! Right when I’m doing everything within my power to get my life together and feel much better about myself, that’s when I get some untreatable, terminal illness. Typical.
I wanted to get tested for the HIV virus as soon as possible, or faster. Not knowing was going to drive me batty.
I thought about the very real possibility of a premature death. I was once asked to make a list of the ten things that made me the angriest. Death was right at the top. I don’t have a whole lot of faith in having an afterlife to escape to, so for me death is the end. It was something I definitely had not planned on encountering soon.
For such a long time I felt so safe and secure in the knowledge that I could not possibly get AIDS because of my long, monogamous relationship with Jan, which even predated the AIDS scare. Now, after one reckless incident my very life was in danger.
There was no endless future for me anymore.
Who could I blame? Myself ultimately. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I hate blaming myself for things that go wrong.
I continued to freak out until I heard my name called to collect my prescription. I took it immediately to the pharmacy as I knew it would take a couple of hours to be filled.
Then I walked around the hospital thinking about AIDS.
I decided to treat myself to something from the cafeteria. I ate a huge burrito with everything on it. I told myself that it didn’t really matter if I got fat if I was going to die of AIDS anyway. It didn’t matter if I smoked, either. Or drank.
I would not drink. I would not drink. I would not drink, no matter what! No even if I tested positive. I won’t spend the rest of my life in a drunken stupor.
How about one last binge?
No! My whole life has been one last binge! I know what happens when I start drinking, I would not start that process today.
So I wouldn’t drink, and I wouldn’t have to get thrown out of the Sally again. What would I do?
Find out for sure if I had it, for one thing. Of all the things the doctor could have said, he had to mention the fucking dandruff. Talk about of coming out of left field.
What would I do if I had it?
I don’t know. Die, I suppose. Everybody dies at one time or another. It’s not a big deal really, is it?
Your god damned right it is! This is my life on the line, not somebody else’s. This is the big R, reality in all its glory. The very thing I have so often tried to avoid in the past. Or ignore. This is what it was like to be a big time grown up. I’d rather be a kid again, even if I had to wash the dishes.
Death. Shit, I didn’t want to die. Even if I had the HIV virus it could be ten or twenty years before AIDS set in.
It could be tomorrow.
In ten or twenty years a cure may have been found.
Pigs may fly someday too.
Death. No more plays by Chekov, books of Henry James, Beethoven symphonies, Cuban women or ladies from Puerto Rico and New York (except for those Skanks on Staten Island), Emerson essays and poems, old Bob Hope movies, and volleyball. No more Michelle Chandler, Haiku poems, Quevedo, rabbits, Playboy (articles), Campbell Soup, Brando movies, Bob Dylan, and algebra. No more Rembrandt, thunder, Canadian women, Cagney movies, and ant encroachments. No more boomerang bombs, calluses, compressed air, El Salvadorian women, Dante, Boogey woogy, Pink Panther films, seasons, Plato, Acetylcoline liberation, iguanas, grammar, national parks and monuments, sandwiches, porcelain, gorillas, Darryl Hannah, leather and lace, radio astronomy, Tanzanian women, veils, H.G. Wells, flies and fog. No more Malagasy women, Kafka, Sepulveda and Roscoe Boulevards, Christmas and everything that goes with it, apples, Hume, mammary glands, Monet and mosquitoes. No more Fonda movies (Henry or Jane, you can keep Peter), lycanthrophy, British (Kay Parker, Sara Jane Hamilton, Diana Rigg, and Linda Thorson notably) and Brazilian women, The Beatles, elves, sneezes, tugboats, otters, baths, kazoos, jellyfish, Goethe, macadamia nuts, doors, Ray Bradbury stories, saturated fat, nosebleeds, Yeats, Vladimir Horowitz, Abbot and Costello, Kierkegaard, Danish women, airplanes, health insurance, legumes, newspapers, xylophones, marathon running, llamas, Hallmark cards for all occasions, Buster Keaton films, Yazoo river rides, Schultz, Dylan Thomas, retrograde motion, operas, Salinger books, salt, income tax, resonance, Venezuelan women, Parmesan cheese, dolphins, basketball, M&Ms, diets, latitude, lemons, gamma globulin, kumquats, servomechanisms, Joanna Storm and Spencer Tracy movies, porcupines, curry, fatigue, cottage cheese, Thoreau, Cole Porter, Nat King Cole, termites, poker, sonic booms, rain, Lzaak Walton, Ten Years After, anxiety, deodorant, Halley’s Comet, Italian women, and fishing. No more ice cream, Dostoevsky, evaporation, skyscrapers, sky, pressure, football, mushrooms, Schubert, and rust. No more Olivier films, zebras, heartburn, lettuce, Columbus Day, Pink Floyd, avocados, pizzas, Spinoza, ethics, Eskimo and Ethiopian women, giraffes, calories, John Rawls, cosmic rays, Bazooka Bubble Gum, mildew, jackalopes (known to the ancients as “deerbunnies”), Armenian literature, arrests, kaleidoscopes, gelatin, chairs, Sackbut music, love, air pollution, Credence Clearwater Revival, Thomas Hardy, Mahler, chestnuts, Russian women, prairie dogs, unemployment, Jules Verne, samurai comic books, women from the Dominican Republic, AT&T, “Cheers,” humidity, Carl Sandburg, Carl Sagan, pineapples, surrealism, women who get mad at you without telling you why, and magnetic resonance. No more greenhouse effect, libraries, tides, George Santayana, Dana Delany, Costa Rican women, sunburns, water polo, massages, Matisse, and margarine. No Icelandic women for sure. No more Arthur Miller, grapes, the sweet lyrical voice of Janis Joplin. No more equity, Doppler effect, Yukon women, mahogany, furniture, laser light shows, Led Zeppelin, chocolate cream pie, Dupont, earthquakes, indigestion, Laurel and Hardy, bevel gears, Clark Gable films, mineral water, woodpeckers, John Locke, Darwin, Butane lighters, crabs, rapid transit (not that we have it now), Marquez novels, smoke, Mark Twain, fantasies, Australian trips and women, heavy metal hard knacky acid rock music, drug addiction, Renoir, balloons, fables, sauces, Frankl, sailing, Kim Catrall, pheromones, Philippine women and Saudi Arabian women. Say goodbye to echoes, butter, bananas, bagpipe music, prejudice, Jennifer Connelly (who I’m secretly in love with, please don’t tell) and Meg Ryan, Tchaikosky, ping-pong, George C. Scott movies, rockets, orchestras, softball, American Samoan women, elevators, Buddhism, chrysanthemums, enzymes, Twinkies, Doyle, Yosemite National Park, Judith Wright, San Luis Obispo, Ann Marten, perception, stores, Rhodesian women, John O’Hara, making of beds, Paul Schofield movies, the Uncertainty Principle, shrimp, Fritos, morning dew, broccoli, Kayak women, scene design and stage lighting. Astalavista to time, tunnels, and tulips. Sayonara to Steinbeck, pigweeds, Jethro Tull, ballet, fashion, chocolate, beavers, eclipses, Salvation Armies, Janine Turner, Tillich, fireworks, rocks, refrigeration, rainbows, Valentine’s Day, Victoria Jackson, Kim Novak, Carrie Fisher, and Teresa Ganzel. Adios to Oscar Wilde, dreams, Dutch and Flemish women, buses, adenosine triphosphate hydrolysis, Elizabeth Perkins, Joanna Storm, cinnamon, trips to Arizona, Led Zeppelin, idealism, linoleum, irony, fruit, James Ward, blackjack, Scandinavian women, tears, Poe, integrated circuits, Sir Isaac Newton, Jack Nicholson movies, Gabonese women, Herman Melville, instinct, concerts, wallpaper, divorce, Joyce, Byzantine women, law, Hemingway, civil rights, sequoias, Paleolithic art, and rent. Aurevoir to mom, Cheryl, Kari Lynn, Patti, Michelle, Terri, Debbie, Janine, Jan, rubber, and French women, Auf Wiedersehen to Norwegian women, loans, halitosis, George Orwell, scorpions, vegetables, peafowl, Lois Aryes, symphonic poems, plumbing, Isaac Singer, quela, Hesse, limericks, ham, rain forests, Kathleen Sullivan, “Get Smart,” Michelangelo Buonarrotic, heat, geckos, German women, short stories, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E” (the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement), Trappists, pepper, Jugs Magazine, Redwood National Park, telescopes, facades, Doritos, Czechoslovakian women, bank holidays, and bikinis. Adieu to crabgrass, jade, Madeline Stowe, Milton, lathes, engines, inflation, fractions, justice, Teresa Ganzel, daisies, fairs, jealousy, The Who, antacids, cellophane, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, microphones, Ukrainian women, satire, Mary Louise Parker, ladybugs, gifts, quadraphonic sound, Synge, Jimmy Stewart movies, Fourth of July’s, amino acid, covalent bonding, and Harold and Maude. Arrivederci to diarrhea, marsupials, swimming, rivers, Scottish women, poetry, pencils, February, Shannon McCullough, hydrogen bombs, education, iodine, miniature golf, lavender, scale, vinyl, plastics, parrots, wheat, Saint Patrick’s Day, civilization, automobiles, Shaw, Pali literature, spring, hats, Emma Thompson, malts, violin music, Hitchcock, films in general, tile, oranges, onions, O’Neill, soup, locusts, television, Persian women, Joyce Carol Oats, Handel, happenings, April, fruit bats, koans, mirrors, pollution, Shakespeare, “Bewitched,” Elizabeth Montgomery, grass, Latin women, women of Mozambique, Nevell Shute novels, wind, cashews, Faulkner, cycles, pistachios, Sartre, Rachel Ashley, cherries, elephants, Arabian music, Christianity, credit cards, Sophie B Hawkins, Equatorial Guianian women, body temperature, sex, emotion, ducks, hate, mucilage, color, Irish women, liberty, lizards, lubrication, cold, Gallup polls, Tracy Winn, luminescence, Gustave Moreau, Mongolian women, Inge, consciousness, pumps, oak trees, sculpture, DNA mingling, Strindberg, Voltaire, Tennessee Williams, gasoline, Indonesian women, laxatives, metaphysics, harvest moons, Ruth Gordon, Rita Hayward, lakes, William James, Kant, Japanese women, Goodyear, blimps, memory, wolves, art, Thornton Wilder, cable television, cysts, ethnic groups, Cyndi Wood, fire, checkers, the Rolling Stones, Bach, euchre, Finnish women, college, tea, Joseph Conrad novels, “Green Acres,” Solzenitsyn, the Blues, Terri Garr, exobiology, thirst, dogs, carbohydrates, flannel, Cambodian women, aleatory music, church, tamales, enchiladas, sparrows, orchids, South African women, ventilation, Neil Simon, Mary McDonnell, picnics, nagging, shunsho, parakeets, Schuler, energy, fear, blood clotting, landscape painting, Cassandra Peterson, John Houston films, Hawaiian women, land, tacos, philosophy, ships, Moria Kelly, Uccelo paintings, quantum mechanics, laundry, snow, Ugandan women, keys, grease, metal, Frost, impressionism, May, Marina Sirtis, forests, nuts, radio, obscenity, volcanoes, Yugoslavian women, fountains, Liszt, allergies, flowers, roads, Olympic Games, vibration, Amazon women of the moon, farce, trips to Fiji, chivalry, ornaments, soap, Swiss women, Virgil, baseball, saving and loan associations, pulses, alcoholism, dry cleaning, Balinese music, Tawny Little, feedback, Chinese women, skepticism, obsidian, perfume, backache, epics, coconuts, plaid, sap, oceans, school, disease, anthologies, dachshunds, Mimi Rogers, friends, Beatles songs, coughing, Richard Wagner, aristocracy, fish, Chilean women, rhinos, peas, smut, monopoly games, Greek women, melons, natural gas, classical gas, Marisa Tomei, Kelper’s laws, horses, pearls, smog, pancakes, Jung, helicopters, Malaysian women, Islam, pens, symmetry, Katie Couric, Portuguese women, masks, Victor Hugo, Korean women, streetcars, whales, giger counters, motion sickness, geometric problems of antiquity, “Star Trek,” and “Star Trek, the Next Generation,” Jazz, mint, Dali, electricity, Schumann, organ music, sports, croquet, bankruptcy, comedy, tournaments, Rumanian women, wax, bias, felt, days, bugs, dandelions, sugar, pears, scurvy, belligerency, excretion, light, Kenyan women, “The Invaders,” gin rummy, Taija Rae, George Kaufman, Indian women, bears, women of Hong Kong, Nietzsche, paring of finger and toe nails, haircuts, liberalism, Vulcan and Betaziod women and some Klingon babes (and let’s not forget those Orion Slave Girls (they’re so green!)), horseradish, potatoes, Swedish women, silt, unions, marching, June, gophers, Picasso, Syrian women, verbs, harmonies, the Milky Way, interest, genetics, Sinclair Lewis, music, learning, Gaelic literature, food, ivy, marriage, melodies, Mexican women, penguins, value, Swift, fasts, lightening, motels, games, Hungarian women, chamber music, fever, carrots, eggnog, walruses, beds, lobsters, Israeli women, glass, linen, skywriting, soybeans, police, Transylvanian women, groups, Las Vegas women, mistletoe, hail, Paganini, weather, incense, liver, Mozart, intuition, Guatemalan women, plays, Virginia Woolf, gardens, muffins, logic, Lithuanian women, hamsters, limits, water skiing, halls, lotteries, cholesterol, arithmetic, denial, Ethiopian women, Ferris wheels, Flaubert, envy, athlete’s foot, dandruff, attorneys, Easter, cartoons, erections (or lack thereof), Natalie Wood and Bogart movies, court, Egyptian women, Chopin, astrophysics, barbeques, acne, waltzes, ballads, Joe Cocker, watercolors, art deco, cheese, family, American women (despite the Guess Who song), customs, evil, Three Musketeers Bars, greed, astronomy, depression, equations, dance, chess, nights, enamel, wintergreen, almonds, cake, waves, clouds, humor, cats, hygiene, Ionesco, milk, Jack Benny, labor, inertia, mantras, mustard, Jamaican women, nationalism, itches, Hegel, Homer, handball, kangaroos, kites, water, weaving, warblers, nonconformists, culture, boats, drainage, factories, corn, debt, anecdotes, detective stories, education, engraving, drama, August, dates, celery, eating, wood, Vonnegut, bowling, cloves, walnuts, Kubrick films, horror stories, literature in general, knots, language, mufflers, numbers, smell, pantomime, Rachmaninoff, rice, riddles, Saxon women, silk, Van Gogh, Christina Applegate, Rabelais, photocopying, theater, Judaism, hedonism, hummingbirds, moonlight, internal-combustion, hair, women of New Zealand, Anne Archer, Bob Hoskins, hotels, mysteries, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Thurber, science fiction, newts, jeeps, hallucinations, hiccups, motivation, vacuum cleaners, reading, writing, Nigerian women, miniskirts, waterfalls, macaroni, mountains, Ibsen, Desiree Cousteou, nihilism, identity, money, koalas, honey, noise, turtles, tomatoes and toads. Farewell to laughing and crying, peanuts, pears, and pianos. So long to sleep and waking up, screws, combs, Kickapoo Indian women, names, meat, government, animals, touch, tables, tulips, telephones, tempera, Tennyson, pies, plants, personality, songs, parody, Susie, Bobbie and Shannon, terns, and relativity.
And pinochle.
And that's just off the top of my head!
Also women in general (I can do without the men).
Girls too.
And that’s just off the top of my head.
Death is exceptionally discouraging.
Some will cheerfully tell me, why Rick, you’ll be reunited with all of those things and people when you get to Heaven, where all the angels live.
I say to these hopefuls, there’s not much evidence for that. As a matter of fact, there’s no evidence for that.
They will say, you must have faith, my son.
To which I say, faith is believing without evidence. Would you buy a used car based on only the word of a used car salesman.
To which they will tell me, yes, of course, Heaven is there for all, just believe.
To which I reply, yeah, and the Tooth Fairy and Tinker Bell shack up with Santa in Paramus, New Jersey, next door to Bugs Bunny and Wonder Woman.
Am I being cynical? Am I being harsh?
Yes, and delightedly so!
Cynicism based on fact is cool. It almost turns into satire.
Whatever happens I won’t drink and I feel good about that decision.
And I’ll continue to write. I’ll write down what happens each day. I know it helps me, helps me a lot. I don’t know why, but it does. Maybe it will help somebody else, if someone else ever reads this. I’ll write about what it’s like. If I stay sober, that is. If I do drink, I won’t be writing much of anything.
Hopelessly reflecting on death would be a great reason to start drinking again. A perfect reason (maybe not perfect—yes, yes, it would be perfect), if I were going to start. Relapse is about making excuses. But I’m not going to start.
I’d start smoking instead, which is what I did. I walked to a local liquor store and bought a pack of cigarettes, and smoked some, after over thirty days of abstinence. But I won’t drink.
No matter what!
After I picked up my medication I walked to the bus stop in a somewhat somber mood. A man was already sitting at the only bench. A heavy-set lady of Slavic ancestry joined us. It became clear they were both employees of the hospital. They conversed.
“I was in the laundry room today. Gee, that place is big,” the man said.
“I don’t know, never been there,” the lady replied in some Slavic sort of way.
“It’s huge. They have dryers, must be as big as a truck,” he continued.
“I don’t know, never been there.”
“I’ve been all around the hospital. Almost ever single place.”
“In one year, I’ve only been to the first and second floor,” she said. “I’m too afraid I’ll get lost.”
“Almost every place. I’ve been in the jail ward a couple of times.”
“I don’t know, I’ve never been there.”
“There’s only one place there that I haven’t been to yet,” he added, “that I want to go to. The morgue.”
“Ah! I’ve been there,” she shouts. “Second floor. Oh, you should see it! Rows and rows of dead people. They have all these tables, must be fifty, at least, with dead people on them. They have all the bodies covered, you know, with the plastic.”
“Ah huh, body bags.”
“Yes. The body bags. So you can’t tell if they’re men, or women. Rows and rows. You should see them all.”
This was about all of that conversation I could take. I moved further away.
I returned to the residence after a thoroughly disgusting bus ride, totally depressed.
I was late for work, but my tardiness was excused because I had been on a legitimate pass. The idea of spending the rest of the evening behind the desk with Victor did nothing to cheer me.
Everything that could go wrong during the shift, did go wrong. I won’t go into it. I survived, and did have tomorrow off.
My birthday.
October 27 Saturday Day 45
I slept in a little. I hadn’t planned on doing a whole lot today, so I didn’t need to get an early start.
I got out of bed around ten, and felt like taking a walk. I went to a liquor store a few blocks down Fair Oaks, and bought some more cigarettes and a Playboy Salute to the Female Form magazine, so I could look at the pictures later, and torture myself over all the beautiful women I’d never meet, get to know and love. I was still depressed from yesterday you could say. Depressed and anxious. On the way back I bought two shredded beef tacos as my birthday present to myself. I was thirty-five today.
The tacos were delicious.
I remembered my last birthday, when I was isolating in my little bachelor apartment in North Hollywood, drinking rum and watching TV.
I thought about the birthday before that, when I had got home from work expecting to have a nice dinner with my lady, and celebrate a little maybe, only to find the house empty, with Jan out visiting one of her friends. I suppose I had isolated from her too, by that time.
Come to think of it, I had isolated from her for most of our entire time together. No wonder she left.
I sneaked my Playboy into the residence (this magazine is considered “porno” by the Salvation Army, and warrants expulsion if found among ones possessions, just like empty liquor bottles). I read for most of the day. Played bingo.
I read an article about AIDS. I found out that it usually takes four or five months for the body to start producing the HIV antibodies, so I had a while to wait before the results from any kind of blood test would be definitive. I had to learn more about the disease. I should find out if flaking of the scalp occurs after only a month after infection. I know that even with knowledge, I won’t know if I’m infected, but at least I’ll be doing something.
I also know that worrying won’t help matters.
It’s hard not to though.
Noah the parrot wished me a happy birthday.
October 28 Sunday Day 46
I went back to work today. I began at six a.m. At least I was working with Mr. Vasquez.
It was good to be working. It felt normal, and helped to keep me normal. It’s good to work. I had the opportunity to get some writing done while behind the desk. It’s good to write. It’s good to get these thoughts down on paper. It’s like confession for Catholics, I suppose, it takes a weight off one’s shoulders.
When I did get off work I felt lost, actually. I didn’t really know what to do with myself, not wanting to do much of anything really.
Do you think I’m making too much of this AIDS thing? Getting all worked up over nothing. Maybe I am. Let me explain something that I might not have made sufficiently clear earlier. I am not one who is usually prone to hypochondria (although I do like to be pro-active in health matters (if not drinking). A lot of men take better care of their cars than they do themselves), but hardly knowing the woman I shared the dalliance with, I do remember that I was not particularly impressed with her character, which really doesn’t say much for me really, now does it? However, it does say a lot of the state of mind I occupied at the time. Pretty sad.
She very well may have been an I.V. drug user or exceptionally promiscuous (if she took me on she had to be). That would place her in the high-risk group for AIDS, which places me into it as well. So my concern stems from the fact that before this encounter I had been 100% sure of not having the virus. I can’t be 100% sure anymore.
Such is life.
I guess if one has any sex at all one can’t be 100% sure anymore, so I should quit crying like a little baby, and get on with life.
Makes sense to me.
All I can do now is not drink, first, last, and always. Tuesday I can go to the library and do some more research. That may help to make me feel more secure. Probably not.
Then I figure, sometime after New Years I can take the HIV antibody test.
It’s a long time to wait, especially when you’re afraid of the answer.
At eight p.m. I went down to the video game area in the basement and found Jack Crosley there, watching T.V. Mr. Gant, one of the house janitors, was there as well. We all watched a fairly decent, though thoroughly implausible sci-fi movie, “Lifeforce,” concerning parasitic space vampires, a subject which fascinates me. It had been directed by Tobe (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) Hooper, and stared Steve (“Helter Skelter”) Railsback, and the lovely French actress, Mathilda May, who was the best thing about the movie. Our old friend, Patrick Stewart, of “Star Trek, the Next Generation,” was in it as well.
Jack didn’t say a word throughout the whole movie. That’s why I like him so much. He’s so comfortable to be around.
October 29 Monday Day 47
I’m really getting into a funk. I’m developing relapse warning signs, and feel like I’m on a dry drunk.
I woke late again, missing morning devotions. Mr. Vasquez peeked into my dorm while making his rounds, searching for stragglers. We looked at each other, and I mumbled something about the time, and he told me that I was alright, and to go back to sleep.
I followed his instructions.
At least I now had a reason for sleeping in. When I get depressed I tend to use sleep to escape. I knew that Jack would be coming in later to shampoo the carpet in my dorm, so I got up around nine-thirty, and moped around while avoiding people.
I began to feel better once I was at work, but I soon discovered we were to have liver tonight for dinner.
When I was but a small child I had a habit of throwing my liver out the kitchen window when my parents weren’t looking. I did that because of peer pressure (my friend Terry, my parent’s best friends son, who I ate with regularly, made me do it). I don’t really mind liver.
I don’t really like it either.
During Bible Study, we discussed some of the similarities of the major religions practiced in the world today. A progressive subject for the Salvation Army.
I missed George’s group counseling tonight as we were rather busy behind the desk. That’s a shame, because it’s the one activity I believe I receive the most benefit from.
I went to bed right after work. Hopefully tomorrow I can start to get my act together.
October 30 Tuesday Day 48
I felt good today. I farted around until after lunch, then walked to the library.
As I made my way up to Walnut Ave., on this bright autumn day, I once again marveled at the intricate architecture of the Green Hotel. It felt great just to be walking around, watching the people go from this place to that, the hustle and bustle of Colorado Blvd. Everybody busy looking at things.
Pasadena has a wonderful modern library. No card catalog here. All the titles are listed on computer, with many terminals located throughout the building. It didn’t take long to find what I was looking for.
AIDS, of course, is the end result of infection by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (H.I.V.). The simplest description of a virus could be to say that it is a tiny bit of self-replicating nucleic acid (DNA or RNA, the stuff of life). Frisky little devils, a virus reproduces by invading a host cell and subverting that cell’s own metabolism to such an extent that it is transformed into a factory for making more viruses. The damage this does to the host cell, depending upon the type of cell, the pervasiveness and the virulence of the infection, become observable in the form of various diseases.
Viruses are able to invade a cell by attaching it to specific receptor areas on the outside of the cell membrane, in a lock and key sort of an affair. If a virus does not find the right receptor it cannot invade and reproduce. The virus itself has no mechanism for reproduction. It must find a host cell to help it.
Unfortunately for us humans (and other creatures), viruses are very clever about doing just that (without even having brains. See, there’s hope for blondes after all (I’m very sorry about that. I love blondes, for many reasons, they’re vast and profound intelligence not the least among them)).
The Poliovirus usually infects the cells lining the stomach initially. The key finds a lock and opens it. But it interacts in such a way with these cells that little, or no damage or injury is sustained. But for still unknown reasons, the virus sometimes moves on, or migrates to other parts of the body, looking for more locks to open, and finds the cells of the brainstem and spinal cord, where it meets the right receptors and goes wild, causing in most cases the inability to breath and paralysis of the limbs.
“The human immune system has the inherent ability to recognize 10 million configurations of molecules. Viruses, parasites, fungi, bacteria and their toxins; pollens, strange blood cells, and a host of human made pathogens are scanned, evaluated and accepted or rejected. At the same time it’s guarding against these external dangers, the immune system monitors cells of the self and mops up behind the minor accidents that occur constantly within our bodies. It also rides herd on cells in the process of becoming cancerous” (“Viruses: Agents of Change,” Giudici Fettner 1990, McGraw Hill, N.Y., p. 51)
Some viruses have unique ways of beating our body’s own natural abilities to combat infection. The Myronvirus, which various strains are responsible for millions of deaths due to influenza (probably the most devastating killer of human beings in our history), seems to be in a constant state of genetic mutation. Once an infection has successfully been fought off by the immune system, the body will become immune toward repeated attacks by the same agent that caused the original infection (by the production of specific memory cells and antibodies). If this agent itself changes its own genetic makeup in subtle but important aspects, which may also increase or decrease that agents degree of virulence or lethality, the immune system has no way of recognizing it and subduing the virus with preexisting defense mechanisms in a quick and efficient manner. It must start from scratch, taking a greater amount of time to respond.
And this time the virus may be a hundred times deadlier.
Other viruses reproduce quickly after the initial infection for very short periods of time, then turn dormant for months or years, until for one reason or another they suddenly reactivate and create havoc within us.
The H.I.V. virus attacks, or reproduces with the human T4 cell, a white blood cell that is one of the many defenses the body uses to ward off infections. H.I.V. undermines the very system our bodies have created over hundreds of thousands of years of evolutionary trial and error to protect us from viruses such as H.I.V. Not only does H.I.V. survive and thrive, but by significantly decreasing the immune systems ability to function, a host of other opportunistic diseases that are normally held in check by a healthy immune system, are free to move in, grow, proliferate, with devastating results and almost always fatal repercussions.
A person experiencing extreme immune dysfunction brought about by H.I.V. infection will go through wave after wave of dreadful illness, from deadly forms of pneumonia, to cancers of the blood or lymphatic systems, until the body is weakened to such an extent that death is the only certain outcome.
The H.I.V. virus, like any other bacteria, fungus, or pathogen, will affect different people in different ways. The immune system in some individuals is better equipped to fight off infections, due to good general health, adequate nutrition, little exposure to toxins in the environment (man-made or occurring naturally), and a predisposition toward health in the genetic makeup (or else everyone would have died from influenza or the Plague (unless they were isolated on Gilligan’s Island, or something)). Other individuals are not as well equipped, or adapted. Some people get sick a lot, others can live a hundred years without catching a cold. H.I.V. may enter the system of some and pass out again without gaining a foothold. Or upon infection may lie dormant with a persons body for the rest of their lives, during which that person is free to infect others by using one of the various well known routes of transmission.
Most cases of H.I.V. infection that become known to public health authorities occur when a patient has developed some form of the AIDS Related complex, or full blown AIDS.
“The great killer of AIDS patients is Pneumocstis carinii pneumonia, which is caused by a fungus carried harmlessly by the majority of adults. Those with AIDS also suffer from common bacterial infections such as staphyloccus and streptococcus; from mycobacterium (the tuberculosis agent) and Pseudomonas bacilli; from protozoan disease toxoplasmosis avian-intracellulare, which infects many animals and birds; and from various rickettsia (which have habits halfway between those of the viruses and those of bacteria and are carried by fleas and ticks) and spirochetes as well as a panoply of viral infections. All these agents are handled with aplomb by a competent immune system (p.49).”
After initial infection by the H.I.V. virus, a person will typically develop H.I.V. antibodies (the immune systems response to infection) after anywhere from two weeks to six months, or more. This incubation period must pass before the infection may be detected by way of a blood test. The test screens for the antibodies, not the virus itself. Usually no other symptoms will transpire during this time.
The intermediary period between initial infection by the H.I.V., and full-blown AIDS is ill defined. Some believe that the symptoms characteristic of the AIDS Related Complex actually signal the onset of AIDS itself. Nevertheless, the symptoms usually ascribed to AIDS Related Complex include: swollen glands, unexplained loss of appetite and weight loss, leg weakness, fever lasting more than a week, night sweats, persistent and unexplained diarrhea, persistent dry coughing, white spots in the mouth, Shingles and lymphoma.
Also, “Many of the AIDS patients have seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, frequent genital tinea, and athlete’s foot. You’d expect these kinds of diseases to increase in those who have T-cell abnormalities or cellular immune deficiencies” (The Truth About AIDS Evolution of an Epidemic. Ann Guidici Fettner and William A. Check PhD 1984, k Holt, Pinehart and Winston, New York, p. 171-172).
I have a dry cough sometimes too.
Actually, I felt a little better after I finished reading. Dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis can be a symptom of the AIDS Related Complex, but nowhere did I find any mention of it being a symptom of initial infection. The dandruff appeared only a month after the episode of possible infection (and only after I began washing my hair with hand soap), and it seems to me that with this particular virus, one month would be a tad too early for symptoms to start manifesting themselves. It’s more likely just a plain old case of oily scalp.
And a plain old case of smokers cough.
But then again, I can’t be sure.
I will have to wait and see.
It also eased my mind to learn that the H.I.V. virus is very fragile, and relatively hard to contract, that not all people who are infected with H.I.V. get AIDS, that there is a possibility I am immune to the virus, and that if I had been infected the virus might have already have passed out of my body altogether.
I will still wait until after New Years to get tested in order to decrease the chances of getting a false negative result.
So what I will try and do now is to put this in the back of my mind for the time being and get on with my life and continue the program with the best of my feeble ability until circumstances warrant alternative action. What else can I do?
This whole AIDS experience, no matter what the eventual outcome, has been in ways very beneficial. Like watching the last act of “Our Town,” I have remembered, and been made to realize and appreciate how precious the gift of life and self-awareness is. How wonderful and momentous it is, and that each of us only has today.
How easy it is to forget that. How most important it is to remember.
October 31 Halloween Day 49
Halloween! All Hallows Eve, and All saints Day!
Big Deal.
Or as J.D. Salinger would put it: Very big deal.
I did manage to wake up fairly early, only because I needed to go downtown to make a dentist appointment. The dentist will be paid by the county of Los Angeles, which is why I have to go all the way downtown (yuck!), because that is were the dentist is. I’ll probably have to wait in line with a billion or so people in front of me. But the price is right.
After I heard the breakfast call, “Good morning gentleman. It’s breakfast time! Breakfast time!” given by Harry Gomez, the mad, but cute Spanish breakfast cook, I got dressed. Then I laid back down again until I heard the last call for breakfast. The line thus shortened, I went down to eat.
I slipped away before devotions (something I’ve been doing a lot lately), and showered and dressed.
I grabbed a bag lunch from the kitchen (consisting of a sandwich made from some unspecified meat and cheese product, a bag of potato chips, two containers of frozen apple juice, two packets of mayonnaise, two packets of mustard, and a rotten orange), and was on my way.
I walked to the bus stop on Fair Oaks. The 483 came just as I finished a cigarette, as it should. The bus was very crowded, with standing room only when I first got on, but by the time I reached the stop at Pico and Grand, I was the only one left on board (which in itself tells you something of the character of the area I was visiting).
I waited for the 38 bus, which arrived just as I finished another cigarette. I missed my stop, and continued on the bus many miles past my destination, until the bus just wouldn’t go any further and the driver made me aware of my error.
Things like this happen to me all the time.
Finally making it to the Claude Hudson Medical Center (Mr. Hudson being the celebrated orthodontist, founder of the NAACP, and spelunker), the scene resembled the Woodstock music festival between sets from Joe Cocker and The Who, with millions and millions of folks desiring care for their decaying and rotten teeth.
Fortunately for me, all I had to do was make an appointment to come back at a later date. This took less than ten minutes. I’d get my chance to wait in line on Dec Sixth.
When I finished my business, I walked north on Grand Ave., looking for a 483 bus stop while checking out the scenery. It looked like an interesting place to live, to grow up around. I personally, wouldn’t want to live or grow up there, but it looked interesting. When I travel through communities or streets like these, I often wonder what secrets lie behind the walls, doors, and windows of the run down houses and businesses.
I found a 483 stop, and the bus got there a little early, before I could even light up, but I boarded it just the same. It took me straight back to the ARC, and as luck would have it, right in time for lunch.
Now I could save my bag lunch for a snack later in the evening.
I wrote in the canteen area for the rest of the day, until dinner time, then I continued to write in the lobby, watching the counselors come and go, and the neighborhood children come to the desk, dressed as goblins and fairy princesses, and beg for sweets, which fortunately, Mr. Vasquez had the presence of mind to keep in ample supply.
I remembered Halloween’s of my past, my friends, my sister. And I marveled at how fast life and everything goes by.
November 1 Thursday Day 50
I woke up in time for lunch. Lunch seemed to call to me.

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