Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Salvation Diary Twenty

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

March 24 Sunday Day 193

I had asked to be woke at 4:00 so I could catch a movie on TV that came on at that time. "Creature," a bad B movie ripoff of "Alien." I had seen it before, but was badly in need of a science fiction fix. I stayed awake throughout.
Half way through the movie I hopped in the shower, so by the time the creature got electrocuted I was dressed and ready for the day.
I got a special fix of caffeine in liquid form from the canteen, and wrote while I consumed it. At 7:00 I ate breakfast (yucky pancakes and sausage), then returned to the canteen to write some more. At 8:00 I retrieved my tie from my room, then went to the lobby to write some more.
Then at 8:45, I along with everyone else went to chapel. I was once again given the privilege of presenting this week's responsive reading, and once again, managed not to muck it up too much (I was a a lot less nervous this time, probably because Major and Mrs. Johnson were noticeably absent).
One of my recurring fantasies involves Mrs. Major Hall (Ret.) She and her husband attend our services each Sunday, and she has been gracious enough to play the piano for us, ever since Audrey (the other piano player I had fantasies about) went back to Australia. The Hall's must be in their seventies, and she makes use of a cane to help her move around. My fantasy concerns the music she plays. Once, just once, instead of the soft, nondescript, melodious passages she provides as a background while us ushers are busy collecting money throughout the congregation, I would like her to break out into some Rock and Roll boogie. I can hear her voice now screaming out, "I just can't get enough of that sweet stuff my lady gets behind!"
It will probably never happen.
I took a little nap after chapel because I was tired. When I woke I read some of the "Beanfield," book, then finished "A Brief History of Time." As an epilogue, Hawking provided three brief biographical accounts of Albert Einstein, Galileo, and Isaac Newton. It was interesting to read about what an unpleasant person Newton apparently was.
I sat between Russell Burke and Mr. Vasquez at dinner. Russell was telling us that he might not be able to fulfill his duty this evening as the team mascot for the basketball game between our Pasadena A.R.C. and the dreaded Los Angeles A.R.C.. Russell wanted to watch a real basketball game on television tonight.
"They'll lose if you don't show up, Russell," I told him.
"I know. Yeah, they'll probably lose the game."
It turned out that Russell was able to attend the game, but we lost anyway.
I was able to finish my first version of the Fourth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous during the afternoon. One never really completes this step, making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, until one kicks the bucket.
At 5:30, Dennis Smith, Kevin Rockoff, Marvin Smith, and I were driven by Mr. Vasquez to the Glendale High School auditorium to witness a performance from the Salvation Army Tabernacle Band and Songsters.
Not inappropriately, the place was crawling with Salvation Army type people. Officers, Auxiliary Officers, Soldiers, Adherents, various Salvation roadies and groupies, all decked out in their shiny black Salvation Army uniforms. It didn't take me long for me to realize that I was the only one in the entire auditorium dressed in blue jeans.
A true iconoclast. I did have a nice tie on though.
The show was wonderful. They had obviously put a lot of time into the effort, and it certainly paid off. I especially enjoyed the Songsters. Clarence Orion was up on stage for both the chorus and the band (French horn), along with my old friends, Capt. and Mrs. Strickland (Ron & Pam), she looking as lovely as ever. Dr. Doctor was in the band He holds a position similar to that of Ed Reitz's at both the Canoga Park and Van Nuys A.R.C.s. His son, and several of his charming daughters were with him. He looked right at me when he introduced his son for a solo, but I doubt he recognized me.
Kevin, Marvin, and I sat in the first row. Snobbish Dennis went off to mingle with his Salvation Army cronies. He seemed to be friendly with Dr. Doctor's family, and introduced us to one of the doctors daughters after the show.
Mr. Vasquez, after becoming unlost, finally picked us up and returned us to the residence in time for "Married with Children."
Later, after I turned off the lights and the TV, I heard the rain begin again.

March 25 Monday Day 194

Dennis Smith knocked on my door shortly before 7:30. I got out of bed and opened it.
"Are we going to the dentist this morning?" he asked me. We had agreed to go to the U.S.C. Dental School today. He had a toothache, and I wanted to make an appointment. Dennis has never been there before and wanted me to help guide him through the bureaucratic bullshit.
I said, "Man, it's raining out there," in a truly wimpish fashion. It was true though. It was raining out there, and I did not relish the idea of getting soaked at the bus stop. However, "Hold on, I'll get ready and..."
"That's okay. We can go tomorrow."
"I have to work tomorrow."
"Well, I'll go tomorrow. That way I can leave at six."
I closed the door and went back to bed.
I got up at lunchtime.
Tuna fish.
I read a lot about caffeine today.
I had the distinct honor and pleasure of dining with two lovely women at dinnertime, Milda and Barbara Grothe... counselor type ladies. Milda had seen me writing earlier, and asked me what I was writing.
"A book?" she asked, in her cute little Lithuanian accent.
"Why yes, I think I am," I replied.
"Do you need an agent?" She was teasing me, in her cute little Lithuanian way.
"Who did you have in mind?" I asked.
"Ha, ha, ha. I was just kidding. What is your book about?"
I never know what to say when people ask me that. It's hard to explain all that I feel this account truly is, especially in the amount of time people will usually give me to explain.
I went over it briefly, and she did seem somewhat interested. I told her that since the book was about my first year in sobriety (if I do in fact make it that far. No fair turning to the back of this account to learn the final outcome, dear readers. For those with little patience and fortitude, I might be quite devious in hiding the true ending), and about what goes on around me, and about the people I meet, and that by extension she was now a part of, and in the book.
Which of course she is.
She looked at me, taken aback, then smiled. "Oh Rick, you're always putting me on."
Later I read about counseling chemically dependent individuals, while watching all of the stars arrive for the Academy Awards ceremony on television.
I didn't have any favorites in the running this year, so the awards show was particularly uninteresting for me. But there were some high points.
Madonna did a saucy little dance number for one of the songs featured in "Dick Tracy." It is amazing how a cheap looking blond, wiggling her butt, holds peoples attention. Or maybe it's not so amazing.
The clips taken from the past films (always a tribute to the editors) never fail to manifest a certain sense of nostalgia that can be quite touching.
The best acceptance speech came from the winner of the Best Screenplay award (Dances with Wolves," which also won Best Picture). "Stick to your dreams and never give up!"
Wonderful advice.
After the show a Barbara Walters special aired and I watched part of it. I saw the interview with Whoopi Goldberg (herself a recovering heroin addict, and winner of tonight's award for Best Supporting Actress in the film, "Ghost,"), and the Jeremy Irons interview (the Best Actor winner for his performance in "Reversal of Fortune"), but had to turn it off before Barbara got to the Mutant Teenage Ninja Turtles.
I can only stand so much.
By the way, Kathy Bates won the Best Actress Award for her portrayal of the Stephen King character, Annie Wilks, in the film, "Misery."
Very good.
I read a couple of chapters of "Beanfield War," then went to bed. For a while I listened to the sound of it not raining, then fell asleep.

March 26 Tuesday Day 195

I talked to Maggie and Major Foote this morning. They must not have remembered our last conversation because I had to explain what it was that I planned to do with my life all over again. I showed Maggie the labor market survey that Jill had given to me. She was suitably unimpressed. She wants me to call each of the prospective employers and basically get the same information that is on the survey. She wants me to ask them would they have a job for a person if that person had the right education, training, and background appropriate for the position. On its face it looks like a silly question. No, no, it is a silly question. Of course they would hire someone like that. Who wouldn't? Would the prospective employer rather go out and attempt to locate someone whose education, training, and background were inappropriate for the position?
It seems to me that the only real question might be if there were a position open which needed to be filled in the first place.
I told Maggie I would call these places.
If nothing else I think I impressed Maggie on how serious I am, and how stubborn I can be about sticking to my plans with, or without her help.
I also let her know that if for some reason I could not continue school, then I'd like to stay right here doing what I'm doing, rather than re-enter the job market.
At least I'll stay sober here.
Jill seemed like she was in a big hurry tonight. She rushed through everyone's weekly goals because the room needed to be used for another meeting. She got to me and asked, "Richard, all I have written down for your goals last week were to read and write?"
"Yes, I did that."
She looked at me kind of funny, "What do you write about?"
I briefly told her what it was I write about. Like Maggie earlier, Jill was suitably unimpressed.
Just like my mom.
Just like most everybody.
Just as they should be.
Except Russell Burke. He cares. At anytime during the day or night, I can count on Russell to come up to me, and say, "Hi! Hi! How ya doing? You're looking good. Everything's alright, okay, hi!"
Bless you Russell.

March 27 Wednesday Day 196

It was one of those mornings.
First off, because of my job I was forced to get out of bed before six o'clock. 6:00AM!
Then, when I got to work the Major came in and started hanging around. Now, as the administrator of this facility the Major has every right to do that, but by doing it it affords him the opportunity to look around and complain about things, which makes him a real pain in the ass for us desk guys. For example, this morning he noticed some cobwebs, way up in the corners of the atrium where no one can get to. He of course, wants them removed. He said we need new pool cues, and that I should get busy and price some. He wanted to get a new parrot to replace Noah (no mere bird could ever replace Noah), but he wanted all of the beneficiaries to pitch in and pay for it.
Fat chance.
He also caught one hapless individual using profane language while talking on the pay phone, and went off on him. He also began crying about the cigarette butts littering the walkway in front of the residence.
I believe he was in a bad mood. For one thing the reason he was over here was to greet all of the clinical directors from all of the A.R.C.s in California. They were having a little get together here today, and they were being late about it. The Major really doesn't like to wait around a whole lot. Second, the wife of the Major's boss was heading up the meeting, Mrs. Colonel Allen, and the Major was going to have to pretend that he was all happy to see her and everything.
Third, Mrs. Colonel Allen was late too.
One other reason the Major might not have been too chipper today was because yesterday he had an angiogram performed. Sticking a plastic tube down the old arteries would probably put anybody a little out of whack.
I was kept busy today, with one thing or another. No time for naps.
Tonight's chapel service was actually a memorial for Jan Skiecicz, who passed away on Monday. Jill came for the service and was even on time. We sat next to each other, and afterward she hung out at the desk handing out some of the photos that David had taken. She gave me three that were not used in the presentation. One was of me blinking.
While she was doing this we had a chance to talk to each other like normal human beings. She did not once ask me what my goals for next week were.
This was my first night of Graduate Group with George Plick. It was a good group. We discussed what was happening with us, what our plans for the future were, and how we were going to realize those dreams.
George got on Clarence Bliss's case for not having quit smoking. Good (like I should talk).
Later, while I was putting away the counseling books, one of them accidentally opened to my folder. To make sure it was mine, and in its proper place, I skimmed through it.
Jill wrote, "continues to work on self-improvement." That's true. Everyday I'm sober is an improvement.
George wrote, "has talked to Voc Rehab, working on getting through one day at a time." That's true as well.
I am always tempted in times like these to write my own entries. Let's say I copied George's handwriting, and wrote, "Rick was quiet and distant throughout group. Asked me if he could talk to me privately afterwards. Said he had been sick and depressed all week. Even suicidal. Had a crazed, glazy look in his eyes. Pulled a gun and said everything would be alright now. He came behind me and put the gun to my head and told me to write all of this down. He cocked the gun--Oh No!..." then splatter the paper with tomato paste.
I'm very sick, no doubt about it.

March 28 Thursday Day 197

I over slept this morning. When I looked at one of my clocks it said 5:58. That gave me two minutes to shave, brush my teeth, shower, and get dressed for work.
I made it to work with thirty seconds to spare. I skipped breakfast, and wrote.
I kept putting off doing my labor market survey. I don't know why. I feel uncomfortable calling people and bothering them in this fashion. If I knew them personally I'd feel more comfortable about wasting their time.
I did have time to do my laundry, and take a short nap.
John Walters, the new book man, brought over a box of books for the library, and I found two good ones. "On the Beach," by Neville Shute (his most popular work, although I prefer "A Town Like Alice"), and "Mystery," by Peter Struab. I spent the afternoon reading the drug counseling book that Richard had loaned to me, and the Shute book.
Most of the counselors scheduled to appear today called in sick, or had car trouble, so there wasn't anyone around to annoy, which really annoyed me, but gave me more time to read.
Dennis Smith went to the dentist today to have a tooth pulled. He was very anxious about it. He told me he had had a bad experience visiting the dentist once when he was much younger. I tried my best to reassure him.
"Don't worry, Dennis. Everything will be just fine. You tell the demon... I mean the dentist... which tooth it is, and after they finish poking it with one of those long, sharp, pointy probes for awhile, he'll pull that sucker right on out. Make extra sure he's got the right one though!"
When he regained his color he left for the bus stop. He returned a little after 1:00, minus one tooth, and very proud of himself that he hadn't made a scene in the dentist office.
We were all very proud of him too.

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