Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Salvation Diary Thirty Two

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

May 23  Thursday   Day 254

I zipped (zipped) out of bed at 5:30, shaved showered, and dressed for work. My eyes looked as if I'd been on a three week bender. The thought of my next 17 hours on duty did not thrill me. My bed screamed (screamed) for me to return and fill it up. I told it that I would be back later, then made my way to the desk.
Wolf Pandolfi's smiling face greeting me. I again felt an intense desire to disappear back into the cool sanctuary of my room.
I endured.
I got some writing done while everyone was at breakfast. After I made the morning run to the front office I told Kevin I would be in the sample room for a while, and to call me if anything came up.
There were no samples to run. I stretched out on the bed they have in there and slept for two hours.
I got up at 9:40, just as Ed Reitz walked in with some samples for the ADx machine.
We said hi to each other.
We also discussed various things (various). Drug testing, and why it seemed that half of the center was absent from last night's mid-week chapel service. We went down to my office and I showed him who exactly was absent, and why. He told me that the Major had inquired.
He left, I got myself a nice cup of coffee with a little powdered cream in it, sat back in the chair behind my desk, opened up the Business Section (everything you ever need to know about anything can be found in the Business Section) of the L.A. Times, took a deep breath, when I noticed that Ed had returned.
I hurriedly put the paper away, hid the coffee, sat up straight, and said, "Hi Ed," just as he entered my office.
"Rick, you got a minute?" he asked.
"Anything for you, Ed. You know that." What an ass kissy kind of guy I am.
I hate it when they do that. I've been fired, threatened, cajoled, given good advice, given bad advice, been praised and condemned, when someone has said those words to me. I registered a sharp rise in my anxiety and stress levels.
"The Major and I have been talking," Ed told me as we sat facing each other. He went on to offer me a job, of all things. As Robert's assistant. I would start out at minimum wage, but would continue to live here free of charge.
This is exactly what I'd been waiting for, I guess. I wouldn't need to wait for Robert to retire. I could save almost all of my pay, and wouldn't have to worry about pesky little things like paying rent, or bills. I could in fact pay back my numerous creditors, and have my front tooth fixed. All for doing what I'm already doing for free.
Ed even mentioned the possibility of taking over from Robert, when and if he retires.
Patience! Patience my dear friends. All we need is a little patience in the world and things will come to us.
I get a nice bonus in this deal. I get to stay in the sober atmosphere of the residence for a while, and everyday I stay here adds another brick in the foundation of the rest of my life, whatever the hell that means.
And I get to continue to help others live without drugs and alcohol... live well.
I get to work in my chosen field. Or a field that chose me, whatever. Take that Maggie Harbottle!
I told Ed that I might be interested.
He told me that it might be a little while before I was actually on the payroll, budget being what it is. He would discuss it with the Major though, then he went back across the street.
Well, all of a sudden I felt really good. The work that I had done here had been recognized. I know, with all of my Zen training, that should be a petty consideration, but it felt good just the same. So good in fact, that I felt like chucking everything and going out to belt down a few to celebrate.
I decided that that course of action may prove to be counterproductive.
I floated (floated) through the rest of the day. There were some hassles, yes. I had to write up one guy for sitting on the toilet for the entire half hour the Substance Abuse Seminar was held, and I threatened to write up Wilford Maze, yet again, for ditching the A.A. panel. But these were minor irritations.
Reuben Perez came in to pick up his insulin. He now says he's sorry that he left. There was nothing I could do for him except give him permission to get something to eat from the canteen. I felt bad for him.
Dennis Smith came back alive from a court appearance.
Scott Feeney told me that he hated this place.
And Russell Burke said "Hi," to me... several times.
Everything's normal.

May 24 Friday Day 255

I woke promptly at 9:00AM. I don't know why, but I did it promptly.
After lunch (baked fish), I wrote until 1:00, and then went to the park to lay out in the sun. I met Ray Valverde there, a former resident, one I had kicked out for using drugs. He had just returned from Las Vegas, and was on his way to Santa Barbara simply because he had never been there. He hadn't had a chance to wear out the local population yet, he told me. He asked me for a smoke, I gave him one, shook his hand, and wished him well.
When I returned to the residence, I showered off the sweat from my rugged body, dressed, then went to work.
After I did all of the stuff I normally do on Friday nights, I copied down some information concerning the hallucinogen, LSD, a drug I first used as a teenager, and intermittently up till about three years ago. Back in grade school I used to save the lunch money my mother gave to me so I could buy a tab (tablet, or dose) of Orange Sunshine, in anticipation of dropping it (consuming it) on Friday nights while watching horror movies on late night T.V. (is it any surprise that I've turned out the way I have?). At the time it was quite popular among young people, especially the ones I hung out with. Mescaline as well. They both gave me a strange taste in the back of my mouth, as if my saliva glands were stuck in the "on" position, but not producing any saliva. At times it gave me a feeling of pending excitement, paranoia, elation, and at times fright, due to a sense of loss of control. I used to drink a lot of beer while tripping on acid. Alcohol seemed to moderate, or mellow the overall effect.
After an extensive introduction to LSD, I tapered off its use very quickly, to maybe once or twice a year. While in Boot Camp, I dropped some blotter acid (the liquid drug permeated in a piece of paper), but the surroundings were not conducive to enjoying the experience, although it allowed me to run very fast for a long period of time, which was helpful.
Because of the sense of control loss (once you've swallowed the drug you're on it for the next 4 or 5 hours whether you like it or not), I have never liked to use it while around a whole bunch of people. Another reason for this is that while on it one tends to giggle incessantly, which can be rather annoying (not to say notable) within a crowd.
The last time I used the drug was with Jan. She took some too. We watched the movie "Space Camp," while giggling at each other all night. That time was actually very enjoyable. I felt a little closer to her afterwards, as if we had shared a secret experience only the two of us would ever appreciate.
The drug is not addictive. It's too unpredictable to be a good addictive drug. I do not crave it, or miss its effects. It was a diversion for me, nothing more. I never had what is known as a "bad trip" (horrifying hallucinatory experience), but do on occasion see herds of 9 foot tall, purple and yellow, Woody Allens on the horizon.

May 26 Sunday Day 257

Someone stole the V.C.R.!
Last night at V.C.R. movie time (7:00PM), I entered the small T.V. room and opened the box that housed our beloved V.C.R. machine, and low and behold, it had vanished. Someone had simply pulled it out of the open back end of the locked box and absconded with it. It must have happened the night before after my shift, while Arthur Svensk was on the night watch. Nothing against poor Art, but that's really the only time someone could have taken it without being seen. What they did with it after they took it is anybody's guess. Mr. Vasquez, upon being informed of the theft, wanted to do a locker search of the whole building, and then thought better of it. It probably wasn't here anymore.
Fortunately we have an unending supply of V.C.R.s.
I don't believe Robert even mentioned it to the Major this morning. He had other problems. Red Shield 21's engine had died, and the large truck was stuck outside of the residence in the middle of the street. And our elevator was acting silly. It wouldn't go up or down.
The Major had to hobble up the two flights of stairs to chapel.
Mr. Vasquez had calmed down by the time chapel had ended. He gave me and Ron Collins a ride into South Pasadena, to the American Legion A.A. meeting, after dropping Dennis Smith off the Corps service. We even drove by Jill's house, and were hoping to stop in for tea and biscuits, but we didn't have her exact address and couldn't find her car.
Maybe some other time.
The A.A. meeting was very nice. Ron had brought a brass bell he found in the warehouse which he gave to the meeting's secretary, to replace the little tinkler they had been using to bring the meeting to order. The bell Ron gave them could actually be heard above the noisy din. I won't say the Ron had pilfered the bell. I won't say that. Let's just say it was an unofficial gift from the Salvation Army to the folks of Alcoholics Anonymous in South Pasadena. A gift that the Army would have been proud and pleased to have given, I'm sure, if it had known anything about it.
The lady speaking today, though she had fifteen years of sobriety, was obviously very nervous, and spoke in an halting, disjointed manner. I was amazed she made it through the whole 45 minutes of speaking time. The house listened politely, and gave her a good round of applause when she finished.
It must be very hard to speak like that, telling your life story to a room filled with people, most of us alcoholics and drug addicts not being very proud of our past. However, this divulgence helps us, cleanses us, lets us shed our pretenses for a while, reminds us of how bad it was when we drank and used, reminds us of where we came from.
It being very easy to forget.
And it helps those who listen. It shows newcomers that they are not alone. That they are not the only ones whose lives have been mucked up by drugs and booze. It shows them that it is possible to end the compulsive madness. That one can live a somewhat normal and fulfilling life without having to take anything to ease the pain, or accentuate the joy.
For those who've been around a while it reminds them of why they quit, that they still face many problems and obstacles, that they can get through them, for better or worse, without relying on chemicals, for it has been said, "There is no problem that drugs and alcohol will not make worse."
Skip, Ron, and I walked north on Fair Oaks after the meeting. Skip is now working part time as a telemarketing person. He tries to sell newspapers and magazines over the phone to helpless, unsuspecting individuals.
I went to the park and sat out in the sun for an hour (30 minutes on each side), while listening to classic rock and roll. As I laid on my stomach the shade from a nearby palm tree crept over my back, unbeknownst to me. Now the back of my legs are a shade darker than the rest of me. I looked like a half painted fence post.
I relaxed in my room for the rest of the evening. I read while watching a "Star Trek, the Next Generation," rerun. And a movie. "Plymouth," about a town that migrates to the moon after their home was overrun by toxic gases.
That people actually get paid for thinking up and writing these stories amazes me.
TV amazes me.
I'm amazed.
It lets me know in no uncertain terms that immaturity, greed, and poor judgment, is rampant throughout the world (foreign television being even sillier than our own). Which is good for me. It lets me know that I'm in tune with society.
Of course television is only one of many indications of America's immaturity. Our sense of values, materialism, beer commercials, take our political process... please.
I finished the King book, "The Eyes of the Dragon." A simple tale of delayed justice. I then went to sleep. I had to rest up for my big day of doing absolutely nothing tomorrow.

May 27 Monday Day 258

Memorial Day! Or at least the day we're celebrating it. The real Memorial Day is next Thursday, the 30th.
I celebrated by sleeping in until 1:00. I had gotten up earlier, at about 9:00, and used the restroom. I won't go into it, except to say it soon got too crowded in there with all of the janitors and all, so I went back to bed.
When I did get out of bed, and dressed, I went downstairs and partook of the holiday buffet. The buffet was set out from noon until 4:00, and the guys could come at their leisure to help themselves. Hardly anyone was around though. We had about twenty guys out on pass. The place looked empty. I helped myself to a hefty ham and turkey sandwich, with some barbecue chicken to round out the meal. I enjoyed the food and the quiet atmosphere. I sat around, talking to some of the cooks, and Ed McNicols and Clarence Bliss.
I wrote in the lobby until holiday bingo time.
I lost horribly.
I wrote some afterward. I also had a nice grilled cheese sandwich from the canteen. Then up to my lonely room to watch a movie, "Dawn's Early Light." Another World War III scenario, this time telling how a nuclear conflict could occur even after the apparent progress that's been made thawing our relationship with the Soviet Union.
Tell me, with all the political and economic upheaval in the U.S.S.R. today, do you feel the threat of nuclear war has lessened?
I don't feel very reassured myself. The thought of the Soviets losing control of their own weapons scares the hell out of me, I don't mind saying.
I talked to Robert after the movie, to find out if anything special was up for tomorrow. There wasn't.
I returned to my room, read some, then went to bed. It had been a no stress, relaxing day. I had enjoyed it.
I dreamt that I was in Hong Kong, looking at all of the laundry fluttering from the windows of skyscrapers, and noticing in the distance, Chinese I.C.B.M.s being launched from the mainland, their destination unknown.

May 28 Tuesday Day 259

A rather murky day here in Pasadena.
I started out with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, waffles, milk and coffee (heart attack express). After which I ran about eight million urine samples, from all of the guys who had been out on pass over the weekend.
One fellow had a cocaine metabolite level about 100 times higher than it should have been had he been abstinent as long as he should have been for as long as he's been here. That lead me to strongly suspect... strongly suspect, that this individual may have indulged while away on pass. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) for him- I have no real way to prove it as he appears to be one of the few who got by us, not giving an initial urine sample when he entered the center, so I have no reference from which to kick his ass out of here.
Oh well, he's not hurting me if he's using, and he's earned my special attention for the near future.
I wrote after lunch. It was more difficult than usual to do so today, as Robert annoyingly kept popping up every now and then, and he is not the type of person who would appreciate my taking company time for personal endeavors (the whole idea of me writing this book seems to make him a bit skittish. On one hand he'll tell me I can use his real name, while in the same breath stating he'll sue me for every penny I've got). He doesn't like it too much when us desk people read, smoke, or drink beverages while on duty. If he were totally serious though, we'd stop doing those things. But he's not, and we don't. Anytime a parrot, or a V.C.R. is stolen though-- boy do we hear it. "I don't want to see anymore newspapers, books, crossword puzzles, or anything behind the desk! We are here to observe, gentlemen, not keep up with current events!"
Every time I forget, and leave an empty coffee cup behind in the office, he'll confront me.
"Why sir," I tell him, "I have no idea how that got there!" I'll look at Kevin, and ask, "Who keeps putting these half empty, lukewarm, cups of coffee in here Rockoff?" It goes on and on.
Today he got me good. I had placed a full cup of steaming hot coffee on top of the file cabinet in the office, behind the briefcase we use to take the paperwork across the street. This is a tried and true hiding place. The cup is difficult to see unless one is consciously looking for it. Unfortunately, Robert has found many of my cups there before.
Two minutes after I placed the cup there, Robert came waltzing into the office, looked around nervously (not appearing to focus on anything in particular), and using his right hand gave a single little push to the briefcase, a very slight, jerky movement- he looked at me, then blazed out, disappearing into the building's confines. Hot coffee ran down the sides of the cabinet.
Did he in fact know that the full cup of coffee was there? Was he instinctively (and unconsciously) making a statement defending the house rules?
We probably will never know.
At 5:30 I came down to the lobby to write some more. To write, as it happens, the very words you're reading right now. By some strange coincidence, Jill was soon scheduled to arrive. It had been two weeks now since we had seen each other, so I thought I'd give her a mild break.
She arrived promptly 12 minutes late, in her usual Jill fashion. Her cool, almost regal beauty permeated the lobby as she glided in the front entrance. The air rushed out of my lungs as my gaze fell upon her. The blood rushed to my head. I felt faint.
I have to hand it to her. She did a smash up job of acting as is she were totally ignorant of my presence and my adoring existence. She made not noticing me seem like the easiest thing in the world. I knew though that she was seething inside with pent up, frustration and turmoil. I could tell this from the indistinct color of her eyes.
I said nothing. No mere words could express my feelings. I resigned myself to a grilled egg and cheese sandwich in the canteen. Jill went to her group, and that is the last we'll see of each other for another week. Each of us not daring to let our external facade slip for an instant, fearing the shear magnitude of our mutual desire.
I went upstairs and strove for sleep. It did not come however. My heart was beating too wildly. Four hours later it returned to its normal rhythm, and I was allowed once more to escape into dreams.

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