Monday, September 23, 2013

Skid Row Diary 15

11   August   2003     Monday       Day 30

   I had left my small portable television set on and “The X-Files,” was just ending as I woke with that strange pressure in the center of my chest once again. Once I became aware of it I could not return to sleep, tossing and turning for a half hour, before getting up and changing the channel to 9, and “The Outer Limits,” and watched the last half of an episode starring Enrico Colantoni, the bald actor from “Just Shoot Me.”
   I soon became uninterested and switched over to the radio and listened to Frank Sontag’s “Impact,” show.
   Frankie wasn’t feeling very well this morning, complaining of nausea. His show suffered from it. He was fairly confrontational with each caller, but the blame cannot entirely be laid on his shoulders. Most of the callers I heard were... and how can I put this delicately... witless morons. One gentleman claimed he loved Hispanics and knew quite a few personally, and was concerned they were taking over the country.
   “Why does that frighten you?” Frank asked.
   “Is that the way you think the country should be?” the caller replied.
   “It doesn’t matter,” Frank said. “They’re just people!”
   A sixteen year old male called in informing Frank that Jesus Christ had been a Nazi.
   “Are you a Christian, Frank?” the boy asked.
   “Yes I am... I’m most certainly a Christian.”
   “Because sometimes I hear you talking about Buddhism.”
   “I’m a Buddhist too,” Frank said. “I’m a Buddhist and a Christian.”
   “But the Bible says you can’t have any other Gods than Jesus.”
   “Where does it say that?” Frank asked.
   “Read scripture Frank.”
   “I’ve read the Bible front to back and I didn’t read anywhere that you cannot be a Christian and a Buddhist!”
   “Read scripture Frank.”
   The Second Commandment of the Old Testament states  “You shall have no other gods before me.”  Yet Buddhist worship no deity or God, so rightfully being a Buddhist and Christian could be an exemption... a loophole if you will.
   Personally I bypass the entire controversy by declaring I’m not a Christian.
  The last caller I overheard before finally drifting back to sleep sounded like a bad impersonation of Austin Powers, calling Frank “baby,” every two sentences, and complaining that the subject matter of the show was not political enough for him.
   “Have you been drinking?” Frank asked.
   I feel a certain kinship with Frank Sontag. He’s just a few months older than I am, we practically share the same political and philosophical views, we’re both rugged of build, extremely sexy, with the added bonus of being ridiculously good looking, and both of our love lives are straight in the toilet.
   I was riding in the back of a taxi in Brooklyn, NY, in midafternoon, the sky a tad cloudy. A young, beautiful woman with sparkling red hair was driving. I looked at her cab license attached to the dashboard which told me her name was Elaine Nardo, a divorced mother of two, struggling to cope while trying to realize her ambitions in the field of fine art. She looked a lot like the actress Marilu Henner... very pretty. I looked to my right and noticed a small dark haired man sitting on the other side of the backseat, staring at the back of the driver’s head. I felt like I was in a dream.
   “Where are we going?” I asked.
   “Where do you want to go?” the redhead asked.
   “I’m not sure.”
   “We better get to Poughkeepsie then. You still picking your feet in Poughkeepsie?”
   “You’re still picking your feet in Poughkeepsie aren’t ya?”
   “That’s a good fare Nardo,” the little man next to me barked. “Let’s go.”
   “Picking my feet?” I looked down and noticed I wasn’t wearing any shoes or socks.
   “Yeah,” the driver said. “Take over Louie.”
   I blinked and suddenly the two had switched places, the lovely redhead sitting next to me with the short guy driving. She was looking at me ominously. 
   “Hi,” I said to her weakly.
   “Don’t Hi me, buddy. Let me look at those feet.”
   “My feet?”
   “Yeah, give them to me. I think he’s been picking his feet Louie.”
   “He looks like a foot picker to me,” the man said.
   “A foot picker? What does that even mean?”
   “It means you’ve been picking at those feet... let me see.”
   She grabbed my feet and placed them in her cute lap and began to manhandle them.
   “Yeah Lou... these feet have been picked for sure. “THESE ARE SOME PICKED FEET!”
   Suddenly the car swerved over a a road barrier and slipped into the frigid East River.
   Fortunately I was able to swim quickly to safety due to the fact that my feet had recently been picked...
   I woke with John Manzano knocking at my door. It was 7:00. I ignored him and he soon went away.
   I got up two hours later, my chest pain gone, but I was sniffling like a little girl, no doubt due to back paddling in that freaking river for so long.
   I checked to see what Giselle was wearing... pants.
   I had a 9:30 appointment with Downtown Mental Health which I needed to keep, so I quickly showered, dressed, and left the building.
   Their office is just a few blocks away on Maple St. I arrived on time, passed through the metal detector, and checked in. I asked to see my social worker, Anthony, as well as Dr. Perry.
   The lobby was quite full of mentally defective individuals such as myself. One bald young lady dressed in a green sweat suit compulsively snapped her fingers. A black Jamaican lady sitting behind me kept repeating a phrase in her native language, presumably to ward off evil spirits. A guy I knew, Frank Venezuela was there. 
   Anthony came and took me to an office in the back, and asked me what I wanted. “World peace, Anthony.”
   I showed him my disabled bus pass and pointed out that it was due to expire at the end of next month. He said he’d make out a new application for me, relieved that I didn’t have a real problem for him to deal with. I returned to the waiting room to wait some more.
   Homeless people and mentally deficient individuals do a lot of waiting. It’s part of the job description.
   Dr. Perry came for me a short while later and took me to his small office, commenting on my recently grown mustache. Dr. Perry’s a white gentleman in his mid-thirties, and fairly good looking if your into white gentleman in their mid-thirties.
   He looked through my file and generally asked me the same questions he asks every two months I come to see him. He was pleased that I had registered for school and would be starting classes next month. He wrote that down. I told him of my chest pains, and of my impending cold, and feeling sluggish because I’d been up half of the night. I admitted to eating a big Bologna sandwich (with 10 hot chile peppers), and he seemed to think that might have had something to do with my discomfort, as it did not appear to be heart related. Some form of heartburn I’d never experienced before. I told him I’d discuss the matter with my Primary Care Physician next week when I saw her.  
    He asked if I’d been depressed lately.
   “Suicidal thoughts?”
   “The last time was when... two thousand one?” he asked.
   “Yeah, when I was hospitalized.”
   I had checked myself into the mental ward of a hospital in Sun Valley for depression because that’s where the ambulance had taken me the night before after they had picked me up from the police station in Van Nuys where I had told told the police I was having a heart attack because the police had locked me up for public intoxication the day before and had released me at around two in the morning when it was very cold.
   “Can’t I just stay here until the morning?” I asked the police people.
   Assholes. The police in Santa Barbara had let me stay until the morning. It was even their idea.
   “It’s very cold outside. Why don’t you stay until the morning,” the Santa Barbara police lady asked me.
   They even gave me a shirt to wear because I’d been arrested without one.
   So I highly recommend getting arrested in lovely Santa Barbara rather than fucked up Van Nuys.
   Returning to my conversation with Dr. Perry, he asked if I ever got lonely, and “Do you ever want to get into a relationship with a woman?”
   I told him, “Sometimes I get lonely, but not right now. Ah, as I get older... the things I seek from that kind of relationship have changed markedly. I would need to do a lot of work on myself before I’d be of any use to anybody else. And the lady would have to be a lot like me in many respects, and halfway free from her own paralizing problems. That’s hard to find. Too many times I’ve been with ladies who were worse off than I was, and looked to me for some kind of salvation. Wrong place to look. Besides, there’s not that many females around here that would be interested in me that way. And I’ve never found it profitable to target a woman and pursue her. These things just kind of happen.
   Most women my age are practically old hags and ready for the bone yard anyway, except for Helen Mirren, and Stella Stevens, and Jill St. John of course.”
   “Having any side effects to you medication?”
   “No.” I’m currently prescribed Prozac and Wellbutrin. I don’t take the Prozac. Dr. Perry doesn’t know that.
   “Well I don’t see any reason to change it, do you?”
   “Not right now, I guess. I don’t want to have to take it for the rest of my life if I don’t have to. That wouldn’t make sense, do you think?”
   “Well maybe...” he thought it over. The County Department of Mental Health had recently been criticized, and the mental health profession overall, for relying too much on chemicals to alleviate too many problems.
   “Let’s wait until after you start school and see how that goes before we make any changes. You don’t want to start something that’s so important and have a bout of major depression...”
   As we ended our brief session I asked him how he was doing.
   “I’m doing well,” he told me.
   “Are you sure? Because if there’s anything I can do...”
   “No. I’m fine. Really.”
   “Good. Your health and well being are extremely important to me.”
   I made an appointment for October 6th at 9:30, and took my refill prescriptions and left. I stopped at Skid Row Housing Trust and signed in. I then walked to the Noffel Pharmacy on Spring St. to have my prescriptions refilled.
   They gave me some candy along with my meds. Having missed breakfast I ate it up.
   I checked my mail and turned in the disabled bus pass application to the MTA Customer Service office in the Arco Plaza.
   I walked back to the Weingart needing the exercise, but it was hot, hot, hot. Global warming is taking effect. People are dying in France right now due to excessive heat. It could reach over 100 degrees locally today.
   John Manzano caught me at lunch.
   “Hey gangster,” he said to me as I sat down.
   “So what are you up to today,” he asked.
   “Nothing. What are you up to?”
   Up in my room I began to read from “2001,” and promptly fell asleep.
   I dreamt I was in a haunted house in Seattle with Nancy Travis, the beautiful and talented actress and star of “Married to the Mob,” and “So I Married an Axe Murderer.” We both explored the large mansion until it got so scary we went fishing in Puget Sound. I caught a flounder.
   I felt like doing something constructive after I woke. I wrote while listening to NPR.
   Spaghetti and meat sauce was on the dinner menu. That was in a can, as I decided to eat in my room. I looked for my can opener, the key to to my large stash of canned goods I store in the northwest corner of my lonely room. I remembered that John Manzano had borrowed it to open a can of oysters and hadn’t returned it.
   I didn’t feel like standing in line to eat, so I went without. I could have made a sandwich, or hot dog, or some Top Ramen, but I wasn’t really that hungry.
   I spent most of the night listlessly watching television and reading.
   John Manzano knocked on my door two or three times. I didn’t respond.
   I planned on going to sleep after the Channel 13 News at 11, with Lauren Sanchez, who is the only reason to watch broadcast news as far as I’m concerned.
   Many people I know, many, feel that local... hell, even national television networks should drop the pretense and just go ahead and hire ex-beauty queens and Playboy models as anchors and dress them in bikinis for the daily news. I for one, am totally against the blatant use of sex appeal in order to gain ratings. Too many men would just turn the sound off and stay ignorant of news that was being presented. I will continue to work for an informed and educated America until the day I die!
   I turned the sound up on my TV so it would be ready in the morning then went to sleep.
   Coincidently I dreamt of the beautiful and talented Phoebe Cates, star of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” and “Gremlins,” truly one of the prettiest ladies I’ve ever seen, who just happened to be wearing that same red bikini she wore in Fast Times. I don’t know why, but she was. It certainly wasn’t called for as we were in the local Food For Less supermarket shopping for jalapeno cheese rolls.
   “Oh, they look good today,” Phoebe exclaimed.
   “They certainly do,” I agreed.
   “You’re not looking at the pastries, Rick.”
   “What? Oh, yes, sorry... they do look good though. Tasty and fresh.”
   We continued on with our shopping, looking for cheap pizza rolls before heading for checkout.

12  August                Tuesday        Day 31

   John Manzano knocked on my door again at 7. He is nothing if not persistent. I once again ignored him and fell back into a gentle slumber.
   I finally got up at around 9. I didn’t feel particularly good, my cold symptoms now more pronounced. I thought about what I should do today, what I should get accomplished, while switching on my T.V. to see what Giselle was wearing.
   A dress! Finally! I eagerly recorded it on video tape for posterity. Who knows when this would happen again.
   It was a Trimar day, but I didn’t feel like going. I really shouldn’t donate plasma when I’m sick anyway.
   I did manage to go and check my mail. Nothing. No response yet from Voc Rehab or the DPSS.
   I decided to get my session with Labren done since I would be hanging around the hotel anyway. I waited for 45 minutes in the lobby outside of her office for her to finish typing something. I wrote while waiting.
   I gave her a quick rundown on what was happening with me when I was finally called to her office. Still looking for a job, registered for school, GR cash should kick in again next month. I told her that the two times I had appointments with Larry the job developer, he hadn’t been there. She called him giving the phone to me, and I unleashed hell on his voice mail. I also told her that I had attended two Phase Three meetings, but Mrs. Sanchez, the housing specialist, hadn’t shown up either. Labren called her up as well and I gave her hell to.
   She asked me to take a urine test, then forgot about it. Once again I have escaped form having my urine mistreated.
   She told me to keep up the good work and I went to eat some beef stew for lunch.
   I saw Gary Porch but did not speak to him. The whole left side of his face was blue and swollen. He’d been bad again.
   I felt very sluggish and out of sorts, and it wasn’t just because of the beef stew. I fell asleep up in my room near 1 o’clock. Uneasily I dreamt I was at China Lake with Madeline Stowe and Ione Skye, the beautiful and talented stars of “The General’s Daughter,” and “Say Anything,” respectively.
   We were skinny dipping in the middle of a cool, cloudless night, with a full moon suspended in the sky overhead. The girls ganged up on me, holding my head under the water until I woke up gasping for breath.
   I wrote while listening to NPR, then finished the Clarke 2001 book. Reading it one finds fault with the film by not adequately explaining how David Bowman came to join up with the extraterrestrials. Kubrick thought it was unnecessary to examine such details using imagery to carry through to the bizarre end.   
   I began looking through Peter Struab’s “Shadowland,” which I’ve already read once, but didn’t have the energy to reexamine the lengthy back story, and skimmed to the end. I next chose a Dean Koontz novel I had not read. “Tick Tock.” I was hungry for an escapist fiction fix.   
   I watched the “Miss Teen Pageant” on NBC, but became disinterested. I then put the video “Waking the Dead,” on, which starred the lovely Jennifer Connelly. A very affecting piece of work. It worked on me as I was suitably affected as I went to sleep, hoping I would feel better, both mentally and physically in the morning.
   I dreamed I was on a Quaker farm in Pennsylvania. I caught on to it being a Quaker farm due to all of the Quakers there. I looked down at myself and noticed I was dressed in Quaker garb and that I was only three and a half feet tall. I didn’t know which of the two observations was more disturbing.
   As I was thinking about it Patricia Arquette, the lovely and talented star of films such as “Holy Matrimony,” and “True Romance,” and sister of Rosanna, walked up to me holding a bucket in each hand. She was dressed as a Quaker too, but looked much better in her Quaker outfit than I did.
   “Come on Rick. It’s time to milk the cows,” she said to me.
   We entered a big barn and began milking. It was very hard, but we finally managed to get our buckets filled. We took them outside and gave them to the leader of the Quakers.
   “What’s this?” he asked.
   “We milked the cows for you sir,” Patricia answered.
   “We don’t have any cows,” he told us.
   Patricia and I looked at each other and then down at our full buckets.
   The Quaker leader said, “I believe you two are guilty of stealing jokes from ‘Kingpin,’  so come along. You must be married at once.”
   The next thing I remember was standing in the Quaker church next to Patricia as the Quaker leader read the marriage ritual from a Bible. We were holding hands.
   “Your sister had me electrocuted you know,” I whispered to her.
   “Sssssssshhhh,” the Quaker leader admonished, and continued reading. 

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