Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Salvation Diary Twenty One

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

March 29 Friday Day 198

Good Friday (probably from God's Friday), the anniversary of the physical death of Jesus upon the cross. The Friday before Easter, observed as a day of morning and penitence.
You couldn't tell it from looking around here. The Administration of the Pasadena Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, being essentially a Christian organization, gave its warehouse employees and beneficiaries half a day off, more or less, and released them at 1:00. The thrift store closed its doors at 3:00.
The boys, upon returning to the residence, had an excess amount of energy needing to be dissipated, which they did by hurling insults at each other and picking fights. Fighting, being one of the four ways to automatically be terminated from the program (we're here to help each other, not tear each other apart) did not actually occur, and no one was caught doing it or thrown out... but it was close.
My dear friend Dennis Smith almost punched (with abandon) my dear friend (and half of the infamous Zulu Brothers) Reuben Smith. Reuben must have said something in that childish, and totally irritating way of his, and Dennis came within a nanosecond of making mincemeat out of him. Other vocal altercations took place. I could hear them from where I was sitting in one of the restroom stalls (hiding) trying to meditate. Some residents left the building just to briefly escape the frenzied atmosphere.
Curtis Carter returned to us wishing to be re-admitted after having spent some time knocking about on downtown's skid row. Unfortunately there were no openings today. He would have to hang around until Monday hoping to take advantage of one of the weekend's inevitable terminations. I loaned him a blanket so he could sleep outside somewhere.
Without being asked, Andre Laws immediately came to Curtis's aid by getting himself terminated after being caught pilfering.
I wish the horny little fucker well.
Curtis will still have to wait until Monday as there is no intake on Fridays, or over the weekend.
Ron Collins, our new Safety Coordinator, told me that on his first day on the job, he banged his knee, cut his thumb, and jammed his finger. He is currently looking for less hazardous work.
Myself, after waking up at four in the morning only to find "Charlie's Angels," on TV, went back to sleep until lunch. Then wrote and went to work. Having discharged most of my duties I read out of the drug counseling book (learning how to counsel by reading a book is like learning to swim without getting in the water), some of "On the Beach" (a very, very sad story. I find myself getting all misty while reading it), and the "Licit and Illicit Drug" book.
Before I went to bed I noticed a newspaper article in the Times. It discussed the Rolls Royce automobile, and how much white collar criminals like them.
Except this one:
"Newport Beach developer Kent B. Rodgers, sentenced in October to eight years in jail for massive bank fraud, said in an interview last week that he regrets ever buying a Rolls Royce.
'It was the worst car I ever had in my life. It changed lanes by itself'
He reported that the gas milage wasn't that great either."
Somehow this was oddly pleasing to me. I went to sleep tonight knowing that justice was not completely dead.

March 30 Saturday Day 199

Passover. It may have once just been a Spring festival, but that meaning has been obscured by its use by the Orthodox Jewish as a celebration of deliverance from the yoke of Egypt.
I celebrated by waking up at 4:00 to watch a movie on TV, but could not stay awake until the end, falling back asleep until lunchtime.
I read for awhile after lunch. "Milagro," the Bible, and "On the Beach," which takes place mostly near Melbourne, Australia, and stirs within me a desire to return to that country just to hear the ladies talk.
It was quiet at work tonight. Tempers seemed to have evened out compared to yesterday. And no one got drunk, or missed curfew.
I read out of the "Licit and Illicit Drug," book for most of the evening. Later I gave my mom a call to wish her a happy Easter. I learned about what was going on in old Bullhead as well.
It has been raining there recently, and this affects my mom's breathing, but she's holding her own. My sister Cheryl has had to take a step down in rank and pay at her job... from supervisor, back to casino floor person. She's doing this so she can spend more time with her daughter, my lovely niece Keri. Good for her. Good for both of them. My one time friend, "Uncle" Lester, is not feeling too well after his last chemotherapy treatment for the cancer that has lodged itself in his neck.
What can you do?
My mom had been watching the Stanley Kubrick film, "A Clockwork Orange," when I called her. I let her know that Kubrick was my favorite director, and that I would let her get back to the movie.
We told each other that we loved each other and then hung up.
I had told her that I had graduated the program, and that I had a nice certificate to prove it. She asked me what I would be taking in school when I told her that I wanted to go there soon.
"Basket weaving," I said.
I'm a smart ass to my mom sometimes. I could have said anything, but my reply at least gave her a little chuckle.

March 31 Sunday Day 200

Easter Sunday! Chief Christian feast, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ after the crucifixion. "Painting and rolling eggs and wearing new clothes are Easter customs; there is no development of social festivities comparable with those of Christmas." There is no mention of bunnies in my handy dandy encyclopedia.
Appropriately enough I had myself awakened at 4:00 to watch the film, "The Nasty Rabbit," on television. A comedy about a Russian plot to let loose a bacterial laden hare here in the American wilderness.
Horrible movie.
I took care of my matutinal ablutions, then came down and wrote for a while in the canteen area. After a scrumptious breakfast I deposited myself in the lobby and read from "On the Beach."
Major and Mrs. Johnson came in at 8:10. They each said hello to me, and then something odd happened. Mrs. Johnson (Jenny) began telling me about how busy their social life had been lately, and soon the Major (Dale) followed suit.
"We've been to three weddings within the last two weeks," she said.
"And one funeral," the Major said.
"You must be getting tired," I observed.
"It is a little much. Last night we were driving with our daughter-in-law... she's pregnant you know... and she got sick all over the car." She made a face of mock disgust mixed with loving tolerance.
"Motion sickness," the Major added.
"Yes, that happened to me quite a bit when I was much younger," I said.
"Me too," the Major said. "Especially when people around me were smoking." He shook his head in abject disapproval.
I started to tell Mrs. Johnson about when I was a little boy, and that I liked corn-on-the-cob so much that I would eat it until I puked my guts out. After up-chucking all over a nice restaurant my mother would never let me order it again.
Mrs. Johnson seemed very interested.
Clarence Orion sang today in chapel. He's quite a good singer actually. He looks like a person who needs help while doing it though.
After services I helped Mr. Vasquez lock up the chapel, then went to my lonely room to watch most of the movie, "Harvey," with James Stewart and Josephine Hull. Marvelous story and delightful movie.
I ate lunch, then slept for most of the afternoon because I had only gotten about two and a half hours sleep the night before. I woke at 2:30 to the sound of very odd organ music coming from my TV, which was tuned to a channel showing the movie, "Baghdad Cafe."
After dinner I watched a fine episode of "Star Trek, the Next Generation." It involved invisible aliens and their insidious ways of reproducing.
I got a front row seat for the Sunday night VCR movie, "Grim Prairie Tales," starring James Earl Jones. I don't know what they had in mind when they made this thing, but whatever it was it didn't work. I was glad when I was called to the desk half way through the film. Clarence Bliss called me over the PA system because; one, he couldn't find Robert Vasquez; and two, all of the drains on the first floor had started to back up, discharging massive amounts of odious sludge all over the place.
I directed Clarence to get maintenance on the drains, and to page Mr. Vasquez over at the warehouse, because that was the direction he had been headed when last seen.
After Robert returned, and maintenance got things under control, I slipped up to my lonely room, feeling somewhat lonely, and watched another stupid Clint (kill everything in sight) Eastwood film. After the Clint (make it with your wife the minute your back is turned) Eastwood film, I went to sleep feeling happy and at peace with the world, knowing that Clint would handle anything that may come up.

April 1 Monday Day 201

April Fool's Day!
I was woken at 4:00 again. I wanted to get an early start to the Federal Building in Westwood, but I decided to sleep in a little more.
It took a great act of will to pry myself out of bed in time to shower and make it downstairs for lunch. Chicken patties.
I made it to the bus stop shortly before 11:30, and had great good fortune with the buses today. I did not wait more than three minutes for any of them. The 483 south on Fair Oaks, to downtown at Grand and 7th, then the 320 west on Wilshire all the way through Beverly Hills (where the Hillbillies live), into Westwood near the San Diego freeway. About a two hour trip one way.
The Federal Building is huge and a tad imposing. I passed through a metal detector on my way to the Veteran's Assistance area. I gave the clerk there my name and took a seat. Very nice modern facility. A television hooked up to a VCR was showing the movie, "The Hunt for Red October." It was ending when I got there. Soon a lady came out of nowhere and popped another cassette tape into the VCR machine, and "E.T." began.
Shortly, a nondescript middle aged lady with long white hair called my name, and asked me to follow her to her desk. I did this. I figured I better or nothing would happen. Once we were seated, she asked what it was that she could do for me. I let her know. I told her that I was seeking an upgrade of my military discharge, from an "Other Than Honorable" to an
I had gotten too drunk several times while in the service and wandered off for days at a time. The navy doesn't like that type of behavior. I had no veteran's papers, or Veteran's ID to show her.
"We have forms for that," she said.
Why was I not surprised?
She gave me two of them. One to retrieve my military records from the Military Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The other was the application for the upgrade. I thanked the lady for the two forms then went back to the bus stop. It seems appropriate somehow that in dealing with the federal government I would need to spend four hours on the bus for three minutes of service.
It was a good bus ride though. I like to look at the people walking around, and the contrast between the old and new buildings. If you look carefully into the windows of some of the older buildings you can see clear through to the other side. I wondered what it looked like in those rooms, and what the building had been used for when it had seen better days.
Buses are particularly suited for this type of sight seeing.
As chance would have it, I arrived back at the residence just in time for dinner (spaghetti). I noticed Barbara Grothe and Milda sitting by themselves at my usual table. I asked them if I could sit there, and they said that I could. Now, once again I had these two lovely ladies all to myself.
How exciting.
Milda asked how my book was going. She believes that it is a good thing that I write. That it's therapeutic. Indeed it is. There is little doubt that writing this helps me to stay sober.
I don't know why.
They asked me what it was I felt that gave me a chance of staying sober this time around considering I've relapsed so many times. I told them that by pure dumb luck (and one lie, and a little work), and thanks to Jack Crossley's not wanting to work a second shift, I had been given a job with some responsibility, which I managed not to fuck up too much, which made me feel a little better about myself, because I've always known that I could handle a job of some responsibility but had never had the chance, and so far I've done a good job, which has improved my very, very low self esteem. I also told them that I have now seen what the bottom looks like, and I realized there was little future there, and that I had been lucky not to have gotten used to the bottom (the Park).
These things, among others, helps me to stay sober now. Writing helps.
Jill told me that she thinks that I will stay sober. For the first year at least.
My God, I hope she's right.

April 2 Tuesday Day 202

"The Apprenticeship of Dudley Kravitz," was on channel 13 at four this morning. I directed my eyes toward the TV until I had woken up sufficiently to turn it off. Only a person on a tremendous amount of speed could stand to watch a young Richard Dreyfuss zipping around without throwing up.
I was at my desk at a little after 5:00AM, typing in the answers to the two forms I had received yesterday. I also wrote. I managed to keep myself fairly busy throughout my work day, running urine tests, stocking up on janitorial supplies, and so forth.
I saw Richard, my counselor, for the first time in two weeks. He had been sick last week. He still looked sick. I returned his chemical counseling book to him, admitting surprise that it expounds controlled drinking as a recovery option. I disagree totally. That is not an option for alcoholics.
I was scheduled to see Maggie and Major Foote today, but Maggie had no time for me. She said she had to go to a meeting. Just as well, it gave me more time to finish my job market survey.
Which I haven't started.
I took a little nap after work, then read part of Norman Mailer's "Marilyn." Or looked at the pictures at least.
I was sitting in the lobby, minding my own business, when Mr. Vasquez announced over the PA system that Jill would be late for her group counseling meeting. Of the ten people who were in the lobby with me, nine of them were heard to say, "So what's new?"
I noticed the little girls from next door from where I was sitting. They were in front of the residence playing, begging for money and candy from whoever happened to out there, guys smoking cigarettes and lounging around after the evening meal. I would say their ages ranged from seven to ten years old. I was fond of one little girl in particular. She is a small, pretty little girl, with great black hair and dark brown eyes. She, like the other little girls who live around here, are of Spanish, or Mexican ancestry. She will no doubt grow up to be a beauty. She once confided to me that her name is Jasmine. I like her because when I talk to her, or when she looks at something, her eyes grow huge and her mouth drops open as if she were in a constant state of awe of everything around her, and all that she sees and hears. I walked out to talk to them, but they were too interested in what they were doing to pay any attention to me. Soon their mothers called to them and they all ran home.
Jill finally arrived, and we began our group. We discussed last weeks goals, and if we had met them. One of Tracy Alexander's goals had been to learn a new word, and be able to use it in a sentence. I have on occasion tried to help Tracy through some of the beginning Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. One through Three, to be exact. Tonight I provided a word for him as well. Quarks. Or a quark. The definition of this word which Tracy was able to find went like this: "Hypothetical subatomic particle that possess a fractional electrical charge, and is the fundamental unit of matter."
That is as good a definition as I've heard. Short, and too the point. I was surprised to learn that Jill had no idea what a quark was. Dennis Smith argued with me as to their actual existence (they do exist. We've been able to see where they've been), which wouldn't make any difference anyway. The word "quark" exists, and for this discussion thats all that mattered.
Jill, not to be out done, had a few words of her own. While attempting to discover what Tom Rotsch's week had been like (like me, Tom is staying in Jill's group on a voluntary basis. Maybe he's secretly in love with her too. Ahhh! I can't stand all of these secret rivals), Tracy was making a nuisance of himself by talking to Kelly Timmons. The second time Jill asked Tracy to be quiet, she added, "Tracy, stop it! Your being obstreperous!" Well, Tracy didn't know what to make of that. Later she labeled Dennis Smith as obsequious." This perplexed Dennis so much that after group he looked up these words in a dictionary. Probably as good as anyplace to look up a word. I found these definitions in the "Random House Dictionary," 1980 edition. "Obstreperous adj, resisting control in a noisy and difficult manner. Syn. boisterous, disorderly, unruly." I'm sure Dennis found something similar to the definition I found for obsequious. "Adj. servilely compliant or deferential." Dennis later confronted Jill.
"I looked up obsequious, Jill. Do you know what the slang definition of obsequious is Jill? Hummm? Do you? It means a wimp, that's what it means! I'm not a wimp! By no stretch of the imagination am I a wimp! I'm a hard-hitting, basketball-playing, jock-duuuude! You better start finding out what these ten dollar words mean before you start throwing them around, young lady. Next week find a better word that describes me. That's your assignment for the week. Got it?
"Yes Dennis."
Later, while I was thumbing through the encyclopedia in the lobby, Stacy came in and said hello to me.
"Took a little vacation last week, did we Stacy?" I asked her. She had not been here the week before.
"Yes," she answered. She's such a pretty young lady. I re-fell in love with her.
While munching out on a nice cheeseburger, I tried to cheer up my friend Ron Collins. He was a little depressed. He had banged his head earlier on a first aid cabinet while inspecting it. He told me that the thing he most wanted to do in life was to have a lot of money... and sit in a bar all day and drink.
I told him that didn't sound too bad really, but if he were to do that he would be kind of wasting his life, making himself sleep through whatever existence was meant for him.
"I'm wasting my life anyway," he said. "I start to think about how old I'm getting, and how I'll never have a good job, or do what I want to do. I'll probably live in a place like this forever. Like him." He pointed to Eddie Acuna who happened to be sitting with us. At Ron's last remark, Eddie and Ron began to playfully bicker, as only close friends can, which allowed me to make a fast and graceful exit.
I have no quick and easy answers for Ron, except that I know that drinking will only make matters much worse. That's the last thing he wants to hear.
At 8:00, John Carpenter's remake of "The Thing," was on channel 13, so I watched it. I'd seen it before, so I sat in horror at the violence the television editors had wrought upon this film. They had taken out almost everything that had made this movie interesting in the first place. They had taken the thing out of "The Thing!" Literally.
I began reading "Working," by Studs Turkel. It seems like a book I should enjoy. Jill recommended it.
We shall see.
I planned to be woken by Woody Allen at 4:00AM, so I went to sleep early and dreamed of endless snow.

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