Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Salvation Diary Twenty Five

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

April 18 Thursday Day 218

Up early again for work. I didn't manage to turn on the TV last night, so there were no old movies this morning. I just laid in bed while watching the clock. At 5:00 I got up to shower, but I soon found out that Don Erwin had beaten me to it. I went and laid back down until 5:30.
At the desk by six I greeted Wolf Pandolfi and Kevin Rockoff, and gave them a big cheery, "Good morning." I learned that Victor Johnson's girlfriend had came in at five, and Victor had taken off with her. Victor will return for 7:15 devotions.
They've been doing this for a few days now.
Morning love.
I, on the other hand, wrote for most of the morning.
No urine today.
I discussed the matter of Ben Driscoll with Ed. He agreed that Ben probably should be referred somewhere else, and he thanked me for bringing the matter to his attention. I also had the opportunity of talking with Richard Bennett about what Romy had said. He told me that Ed had told him Ben should have been referred to another program months ago. Richard thought that Ed was having a little trouble getting active about this.
We shall see.
Mr. Vasquez came down, making an appearance at lunchtime. He started working with Schimmele and the other janitors, getting ready for the big time inspection next Monday. Ed Reitz and I went around the building checking this and that. He pointed out things, maintenance things, that needed doing, and I wrote down those things on this piece of paper I had with me, attached to a clipboard.
He always seems to want to drag me around on pet projects of his on Thursday afternoons. I think he's a bit intimidated by Robert, and believes that I'm easy prey. He asked me what my days off were.
"Sunday and Monday," I told him
"Good luck," he said, looking at me and smiling. He was trying to imply that I would be too busy getting things ready for the big time inspection to be able to take my days off.
Good luck my big, fluffy, sweet white ass! He is involving himself in a fantasy that, one: I'm sweating the load over the upcoming inspection, and two: that I'm actually like getting paid for the work I do here. I work sixty hours a week as it is. Robert and I put in more hours than anyone else here... anyone! Including Ed and Major Johnson. I take great pleasure in knowing that if I ever were fired the end result would be that I would be forced to work somewhere else for only 40 hours instead of 60... and for more pay.
Kevin Rockoff wasn't feeling very well today. He was almost forced to miss lunch.
Everything was rather peaceful after Ed went home. Even the night's meetings went well. I got to read a lot of the "Mystery" book, which I'm enjoying a great deal. The best thing Straub has written since "Ghost Story."
I went to bed with the knowledge that I would not have to get up early. That I could sleep in if I so desired.
That made me happy.
I had trouble getting to sleep though. Disturbing thoughts ran through my mind.
Things I can't remember now.

April 19 Friday Day 219

I slept in on purpose. I didn't want to run into Ed Reitz today and get involved in any of his projects. Robert would be busy enough handling the list of things to do that Ed and I had compiled yesterday, and probably would not be in very good humor as well. I crept out of the room in order to eat lunch, and when I returned Robert was standing inside of his doorway, which happens to be right next to my doorway, reading the instructions on a medium sized plastic bottle. He called me over.
"This is to clean the blinds," he said. "As advertised on T.V." He went on to tell me that he also had a special cleaning attachment to go with the contents of the plastic bottle. The attachment had multiple brushes that supposedly were perfect for cleaning venetian blinds. As he went on telling me about the lights bulbs he had been changing in the bathrooms, Ed appeared. A feeling of impending doom fell upon me. Robert and Ed began spiritedly discussing various aspects and methods of cleaning various objects. I kept my mouth shut as to not draw attention to myself. Ed explained to Robert what he wanted done around the residence. Robert told Ed what he was going to do. As Ed emphasized the shower stalls as his number one concern, I quietly backed out into the hallway and slipped away.
When the coast was clear I slipped back into my room and read for awhile. "Mystery," "Beanfield," and the Bible, then I went downstairs and wrote (a risky move on my part) until it was time to go to work.
I write in longhand on typing paper I err... borrow forever from the office. I write in longhand because I don't know how to type very well, and even if I did know how to type I don't have a typewriter. Even if I did have a typewriter and did type, I know I would become so exasperated by all of the inevitable mistakes I would make typing that I wouldn't get anything done.
I use a copy of the Life Science Library's "The Mind," as a notebook and writing pad. I err... borrowed it from the A.R.C.'s library. I use it for several reasons; first, when I began writing this book (book, for this is what this has become) it was the only thing I had to write on. It's small and thin enough to carry around without much trouble. It's stiff, reinforced cardboard cover, which is useful to write on if there is no table or desk to use (when I'm writing in the lobby for instance). It holds a goodly amount of fresh blank paper, and it has a lovely picture of a young boy with inquisitive blue eyes on the cover. Sometimes I feel very much like I think that little boy must have felt like when the picture was taken... searching, and filled with wonder.
I use pens to write with (black and blue ink only) that I err... borrowed from the office. After I complete ten pages or so (both sides), I take them upstairs to my lonely room and lock them away in a briefcase I err... borrowed from Warren Bahr. I err... borrowed the English language from a bunch of crazy Anglo-Frisians.
The only things that are mine I'm afraid, are my own thoughts, feelings, and reminisces, which reminds me of a favorite poem of mine from Goethe, entitled "Property."

I know that nothing belongs to me
But the thought which unimpeded
From my soul will flow.
And every favorable moment
Which loving fate
From the depths lets me enjoy.

Shortly after arriving for work I was talking to Mr. Vasquez in the office, when Bill Rausemplat told me that Eddie Gillespie was outside and asking for me. I went to see him.
He didn't look too bad. He was unshaven and wore an embarrassed smile. I asked him how he was doing.
"All right. Staying drunk."
I saw Eddie Acuna and Hobart Rodgers sitting in the shade across the street. Gillespie told me they needed to get Acuna into a detox center. He also wanted to let me know that he had come over to see me, just as he said he would before he left, and that he could also use a few dollars if I had it. He told me that he wouldn't mind though, wouldn't hold it against me, if I didn't have any money to give him. I knew hat he would use it for. I gave him two bucks anyway.
I said goodbye, asked him to say hello to the others, and to come around and see me every once in a while if he could.
It was a relatively peaceful evening. I read through most of it. Bill kept up a constant monologue concerning the cheeseburger he was going to have when he went on break. He compared Ed McNicol's cheeseburgers to those made by Roger Collins, and came to the conclusion that he preferred Roger's fare. I tried to block out his words as he described the way Roger grilled his onions by reading of the happenings on the Caribbean island of Millwalk in the book "Mystery." I also read of amphetamines and speed.
Oh yes, one more thing. Rockoff wanted me to mention that he's got the runs.

April 20 Saturday Day 220

I slept in again, on purpose of course, until nine.
Then I went back to sleep.
When I finally did get up I finished reading "Mystery," by Peter Straub. Very good.
I watched a news program on television that discussed the role the lottery plays in the California educational system. The lottery, it seems, was to have provided extra revenue for California's schools, thus buttressing the educational foundation of the state, and by extension, the nation, at the same time quenching the citizen's thirst for gambling and dreams of instant millions. It is true that the lottery has been a huge success here, generating hundreds of millions for the state's schools.
Then why do I hear about so many teachers being laid off? Why do I hear of illiterate graduates? Why do I hear of no money for school books, pay reductions, budget cuts? Why is the quality of education (proportionally) so low in California?
Considering the economic incentives to become a teacher I'm surprised there are any at all.
The news program would have me believe that as the revenue of the lottery rose, bringing more money into the state's school system, the state, in contrast, would siphon other funds normally set aside for our schools. This being tantamount to a strategic deficit reduction ploy, which cancels out the intended purpose of having the lottery to begin with, and of course is contrary to the wishes of the voters of California.
I could not believe this. I find it extremely hard to swallow that the folks up in Sacramento would resort to such stupid, ill considered, and short sighted tactics.
No responsible government elected by the people could do our children such a disservice.
I just couldn't believe it!
After taking a cold shower to calm down, I dressed and went to the library to write until it was time to go to work. After starting my shift I wrote some more.
I'm writing right now in fact.
Jerry Schimmele came to me wondering if I had checked the chapel yet. I told him no, that I had not.
"Why not?," he asked.
"Why should I?" I countered.
"Because we always have to check Russell."
Just then Russell Burke walked by on his way outside to smoke a cigarette.
"We're checking on you, Russell," Schimmele goaded.
"Okay," Russell said, dismissing him. "Go find some dust."
Schimmele is famous for looking for and finding dust, or rather pretending to look for and find dust. Hence his nickname, "The Bug-Eyed Dust Fairy."
I wrote for most of the evening. "A Man for all Seasons," was on T.V. tonight, but I couldn't watch it because I was supposed to be working.
Near midnight I walked outside to look at the night. It had rained earlier, and the street was still wet and shiny. Cars picked up water as they drove by. I remembered where I had been last year at this time. At the Canoga Park A.R.C. getting ready to relapse. Then I thought further back to two years ago when I was still living with Jan, right before she told me she was leaving. I considered what it would be like to return in time 730 days, and what I could have done to prevent our breakup. I thought about the things I could have done differently.
I realized how bad our lives together had become by that time, how we had hurt each other, and I asked myself if I would have ever had a chance at recovery within the confines of that relationship.
And I admitted to myself, not without a twinge of pain, that things had turned out for the best.

April 21 Sunday Day 221

Wolf woke me at four. I got up at five, showered and dressed for chapel. I loaded everything that was on my floor (shoes, extra blanket, grenade launcher, trash can, etc.) on to my bed, so Jack Crossley would have an easy time of shampooing my carpet right after the service.
I went to the canteen to write until breakfast time, after which I went to the lobby to finish up. As I sat down I remembered that Major and Mrs. Johnson would soon be arriving, so I got up again and went back to the canteen.
I've had my share of Major J's complaining of fingerprints on the windows, and cigarette butts littering the parking lot. No doubt if he saw me sitting in the lobby he would come directly to me with his concerns. Then I would have to pretend to do something about the situation. So I took a cue from Robert, who never seems to be around when the Major and his lovely wife arrive.
Chapel went well. I continued to have trouble to stay awake for the morning inspirational message. I'm afraid uppers are not an option for me.
I changed into casual clothes after chapel, and sat on a chair in my bathroom reading Nan Robertson's "Getting Better," a very insightful book I would recommend to anyone interested in a behind the scenes look at A.A. It made me aware of certain aspects of Bill Wilson's (along with Bob Smith, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous) life one will not find in any A.A. literature.
Jack came along a did my carpet for me. Robert came along and insisted on doing his own room, along with the carpet in the hallway. I read in the looby while the carpets were drying.
After lunch (ribs) I cautiously tread upstairs, and without stepping on my floor, made it to my bed, where I fell asleep.
When I woke I took three sheets from my bed and washed them. I cleaned the window blinds, and generally put everything else that was lying around into some kind of orderly fashion.
This concluded my preparations for the big time, massive, annual facility inspection.
A movie on television started about this time. "The Search for the Goodbar Killer," with George Segal, the beginning of which depicted a crowded discoish dance floor, lights flashing on and off, young, good looking people swirling around and swaying to the song, "Gloria." I thought to myself what a fun thing that would be to do. Go dancing.
I watched a repeat episode of "Star Trek, the Next Generation," after dinner, then lost horribly at bingo. I then grabbed a seat for the V.C.R. movie, "The Guardian," directed by William Friedkin, of "The French Connection," and "The Exorcist," fame. Although the story made no sense, it was a bit scary. A director such as Friedkin should have done better. I sat next to Dennis Smith during the show.
The film ended in time for me to smoke a cigarette before "Married with Children." I then read until I felt sleepy. I had not made my bed. I would make it tomorrow morning, make it so it would be beautiful for inspection.
I had odd dreams. I do not remember them in any detail, which is not unusual for me, but I sensed they were vaguely disturbing. I was glad when I finally woke up.
I don't suppose we dream when we die. In a way I'm glad.

April 22 Monday Day 222

I slept until about ten today. Over slept actually. Wolf had woke me at four. By the time I had showered and dressed it was lunch time (turkey salad sandwiches).
Mr. Schimmele told me that Robert had mentioned something to him about my becoming an employee. I told Schimmele, I'll believe it when I see it. Although Robert may want me on the payroll to help him with driving chores, the decision is not his. That lies with the Major. Majors in the Salvation Army are notoriously thrifty (cheap, and very careful about adding people to the payroll).
My counselor Richard came rolling up to my table in his golf cart, and we had lunch together.
Then I was off like a flash to Colorado Blvd. and Fair Oaks, where I caught the mighty 180 to Glendale and Broadway, where I caught the 91 to Glendale College, which is located in the northern section of the city, nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The college itself was built upon several hills, making my walk to the administration building somewhat arduous. I purchased a copy of the Summer schedule of classes for 50 cents, and picked up an admissions application. Then back on the bus to Pasadena.
I barely had time to fall in love while I was there.
I went to the Pasadena Central Library on Walnut Street, to learn all I could about "crack" cocaine. Crack is one of the few mind altering substances I have not experimented with, and I am extremely grateful for that. My close circle of druggie friends (friends?) never indulged in the smoking of cocaine. If someone had introduced me to crack I am sure I would have succumbed to it's temptations. At one time in my life I inhaled cocaine nasally (and noisily) quite a bit while I was living with my first wife's Aunt, Debbie, but only because she was dealing the stuff and I got it free. I have rarely paid for cocaine. I always considered the high (euphoric feeling, stimulant) cocaine provided, although pleasant, not substantial enough to warrant paying $100 a gram for it (like Salvation Army Majors, I can be notoriously thrifty (cheap) at times), an amount I could easily consume at one sitting. Booze was always so much cheaper and easier to procure.
But the distributors of cocaine on the black market have found a way to circumvent the price obstacle. Anyone can afford the $5, $10, or $25 chunks or "rocks," of crack that thousands of Americans are addicted to (because it is relatively as addictive as nicotine). My own personal experience in recovery centers has been that about half of the population are alcoholics and polidrug users, and the other half, young recovering crack addicts. Their relapse rate is extremely high. In Cocaine Anonymous it is more unusual than not to find long periods of sobriety (5 years or more). The addictive nature of this drug is alarming- houses, cars, families, and businesses gone to pay for the drug in a blink of an eye.
As luck would have it I got back to the residence just in time for dinner. I sat next to Barbara Grothe, and asked her why they built her college (she attends Glendale College) on so many damn hills.
She had no answers.
Ed Reitz sat at our table. He sat across from me with Barbara between us. He looked a little morose. I suspected he was having a rough time lately, with the inspection and all.
And his in-laws had come to visit.
I learned that one of the inspectors, a Col. Johnson (no relation to the Major) had fallen ill and had been taken to Huntington Hospital (no USC General for the Salvation Army), apparently due to heart trouble.
I wish him well.
The inspection may be canceled because of this. No one knows for sure. The other two members of the inspection party left later in the evening.
Dennis Smith was sitting at another table close by. Just to the side of Ed's stern face I could see Dennis looking at me, and I couldn't help but smile. Ed noticed my moronic expression and must have thought I was looking at him, which did little to help his already deteriorating disposition.
I read in my room later. At eight I turned on the T.V. to the second installment of "The Astronomers." Tonight's show provided some insight into how radio astronomers work, and their attempts to reveal the energy sources of quasars at the furthest detectable boundaries of the universe.
Very nice.
I read some more after the program, looked over the Glendale College catalog, and decided I should make a trip back to P.C.C. next Monday to apply for the Fall semester, and schedule myself for an English placement exam.
Then I thought about beautiful women for awhile before going to sleep.

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