Friday, November 29, 2013

Skid Row Diary 19

21  August   2003    Thursday       Day 40

   I watched “Voyager” for about half an hour. Seven of Nine was marooned on a planet with the executive officer, the lucky bastard. I went back to sleep and dreamt I was marooned on a planet with Seven of Nine and Carly Fiorina of Hewlett Packard. She’s hot, I dreamt. We all walked around, picking berries and looking for muskrats.
   I got up at 6:30 and showered. John Manzano came by at 7:00 for breakfast, but I couldn’t go with him. I was fasting in preparation for the blood test. He came back after he ate and we walked to the V.A. Clinic together.
   I took a number after entering the lab waiting lounge. #11, but I was the 10th vet to give blood today. #5 chickened out and didn’t show when his number was called. It took two tough looking Asian ladies to hold me down while they took my blood. The V.A. is notorious for using blunt needles. 
   I won’t say Asian-American ladies because I don’t know if they were American. They spoke to each other in some Asian language... some language they use in Asia most likely. They were probably commenting on my rugged good looks.
   Women! They’re all the same. Sex, sex, sex, that’s all they think about.
   Of course the Radiology Department was closed, so I couldn’t get my X-ray. John and I then left and took a Dash to the Friedman Occupational Center, where I showed him where the Barber College was located.
   I had taken three pictures of John with my 99 Cent Store camera on the way to the clinic. Later, after he’d gotten all of his hair cut off to a slight stub, I told him, “Boy I’m glad I got those pictures before you got your haircut.”
   He looked like a short Mexican Uncle Fester with a bad hangover.
   I tried to call the State Appeals Board again after returning to the Weingart. After waiting 20 minutes on hold I got through. A Mrs Fong took my request for a hearing concerning my food stamps. As I was trying to talk to her, her voice became fainter and fainter on the phone. I noticed the connection between the payphone cord and handset was lose, and when I jiggled it the connection seemed to improve... until it disappeared all together.
   I got mad, not knowing if the lovely Mrs Fong had received enough info to initiate the proceedings, and kept jamming the cord into the yellow receiver hoping to hear her soothing voice yet again.
   No such luck.
   I’ll have to find another phone and call again, I told myself.
   I filled out and turned in an anonymous “Notice of Concern,” form about the phone, adding “During my conversation with the State Appeals Board, I was disconnected, and may now have to go to jail for 30 years. Please fix ASAP.”
   I embellish at times. 
   Just before 1:00 I walked next door to the Levi Center for a job search meeting. I was the first to arrive, and tried to get some work done on The Day the Earth Stood Still screenplay while waiting. I did get a little done, but only a little before my pen ran out of ink, and I had no other with me.
   It was just one of those days I told myself.
   Richard Cairns did not attend, but Larry, my job developer was there. He spent about a half hour talking about what all he would do for us. I arranged to meet with him Monday at 8:00, afterwards. We shall see.
   I returned to my lonely room. Gary Porch stopped by to let me know how his life was progressing. He was doing just slightly less worse than John Manzano, having stayed out last Monday and Tuesday night, after being warned that one more unexcused overnight absence would be cause for termination. He some how got away with it and is still here, but he’s walking on a short plank.
   I tried to tell him he needs to stop drinking. That it wasn’t helping him any, and that most of the time he didn’t even seem to enjoy it. He agreed with me, but that’s just talk. 
   I’m certainly in no position to lecture him even if I was inclined to. Even if I thought it would do any good, which I don’t. I’ve got my own problems with cigarettes and sex. My problem is that I still enjoy these things, until I temporarily tire of them, then I want to stop forever again.
   Forever is a long time.
   Gary’s going to have to want to stop before he begins to help himself. Any drug addict, and I include alcoholics (which is just a specialized label for a certain type of drug addict) and cigarette smokers, have to want to stop before they can help themselves.
   I’ve heard this in some 12 Step Meetings, “Here you can learn to not drink whether you want to or not.” Bullshit! That statement doesn’t even make any sense. People who don’t want to do things, and are so inclined not to do them, generally don’t do them.
  Anyway, I went to lunch with John Manzano who was now effectively bald
   Sesame Chicken.
   We walked yet once again to the V.A. Clinic. John to his Anger Management Class, me to the ASAP Phase II meeting where we discussed emotions.
   I don’t remember exactly what we said about them, but it was very sad.
   John and I walked back together. 
   I wrote in my room, and did a little yoga.
   After a while Manzano stopped by after completing a meeting with Labren and Richard Cairns. He’s pissed that he’s on a contract.
   “Well, you can’t really blame them,” I told him, trying to keep matters in perspective. “In their view all you’ve been doing here is going home every weekend and smoking dope.”
   “I wasn’t going home every weekend,” John said.
   “Yes you were. Almost every weekend.”
   “No I wasn’t,” he insisted.
   “Okay. Whatever. You weren’t going home every weekend.
   “Yes I was.”
   He soon left but came back for dinner.
   He asked me if I had any oil.
   “Oil? No.”
   “You sure? The fan Pete gave me doesn’t spin very fast and I want to oil it.”
   “Perfectly understandable, and I admire and salute your vast problem solving capabilities, but I don’t have any oil. What do you think I am, AM/PM?”
   Chile Mac for dinner. I made myself a nice cup of tea afterwards, and because “Married with Children,” was preempted by a pre-season football game, I put “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” in my VCR, and watched that while reading Wednesday’s paper. A brilliant movie starring the lovely and talented Holly Hunter. John came in at about the half way point and watched it with me.
   “Thanks for telling me you were watching a movie,” he said.
   “You were watching the football game,” I reminded him.
   “Thanks anyway.”
   After the movie.
   “Can we watch Seinfeld?”
   “Why not? Please.”
   We watched Seinfeld. I read. John finally went away when he realized I was not, under any circumstances, going to watch Thursday Night Smackdown, a staged wrestling program on channel 13.
   “Why?” he asked.
   “I’ve told you a million times why... because it’s staged... it’s fake.”
   “No it’s not!” he screamed, desperate now.
   “First, bullshit! Don’t insult your own intelligence. Second, I don’t care to watch people beat on each other (unless it’s Bruce Lee, of course), and Third, I don’t want to watch almost naked guys prance around for two hours, you homo.”
   “That’s an exceptionally homophobic thing to say,” he admonished.
   “You’re right. I apologize faggot.”   
   “Not a chance,” I told him.
   He took off when I put on space alien Dick Clark’s ABC “Bloopers.” I recorded some of the bloopers made by Katey Sagal and John Ritter from “8 Simple Rules.” I love to see people fuck up.
   Most people do.
   I then watched an almost incomprehensible documentary on channel 58 concerning Carl Jung’s work on dreams, a subject of singular interest to me at the moment. 
   It was probably comprehensible, I’m sorry. I was reading while watching, and stepped out once to brush my teeth, and didn’t pay much attention to it really.
   At 10:00 I watched and tapped a program on modern infectious diseases. I fell asleep while watching.
   I dreamt about being a hard working husband and living in a lovely home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, married to Katey Sagal, the beautiful and sexy star of “Married with Children,” with our daughters, Kaley Cuoco and Amy Davidson from “8 Simple Rules.”
   “Hey baby! want to go upstairs and fool around? Daddy’s hungry.”
   “Not now dear,” she said. “I promised the girls we’d go shopping for school. Maybe next week.”
   “Next week?”
   “Yeah. They need a lot of clothes.”
   “But they go to Catholic School. Don’t they wear those uniforms?”
   “Yes, but they need something to wear at the beach.”
   “The beach? But we live in Pennsylvania,” I reminded her. “We’re kind of landlocked.”
   “Pennsylvania has 51 miles of coastline along Lake Erie and 57 miles of shoreline along the Delaware Estuary,” she reminded me. “But I see your point, and that’s why we’re we’ll be going to Hawaii for a few days, maybe longer. A lot longer.”
   “Yeah daddy,” the girls chimed in.  
   “We’d ask you to come along, but we know how busy you are with work and all,” Katey said.
   “I can take some time off, I guess.”
   “I wouldn’t hear of it,” she said. “Besides,  Raul will be taking care of us, if you know what I mean.”
   “The new gardener. He’s been just wonderful the last couple of months. I told him you’d give him a raise.”
   “Raul? A raise?”
   “Yes daddy,” Kaley said. “His cousins are real cute too.”
   On and on.

22  August     Friday   41

   John Manzano came to get me for breakfast at 7:05 exactly.
   “You ready?” he asked.
   “Am I ready? You’re five minutes late! How the hell are we supposed to get anything done if you can’t stick with the schedule?”
   John’s friend Pete was downstairs waiting outside. John spoke with him as I signed in at the front desk. He had been out all night because the security people thought that he looked high last night after returning from his warehouse job. 
   “You can’t come in until 7:30,” he had been told.
   Pete said he hadn’t been high, or anything like that, but what can you do?
   We all had breakfast together. Pancakes.
   I asked Pete, “So are you going to be on contract too, like this doper?” I was alluding to Manzano.
   “I’m not that stupid,” he said. “Give a dirty test and still want an overnight pass...” He shook his head. John and I laughed.
   “I’ll get another pass,” John said.
   I walked to One Stop and checked my E-mail. I had about 10 messages with the Sobig F Worm attached, hidden within innocuous looking letters. One was titled “Thank you,” and invited me to open an attachment. Another, “Your application.” One scared me as it came from a job site I had used, “Job Frenzy.” Strange. 
   I’ve learned that a computer worm is a standalone malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers, and almost always cause at least some harm to a network, even if only by consuming bandwidth.
   This worm has been infecting Microsoft Windows computers for the last couple of days. I deleted all of the messages. 
   I brought up the Amnesty International Action Now page and submitted letters that would be sent to the appropriate authorities concerning the topics I’ve mentioned earlier, violence against women in Russia, and unaccompanied children in the U.S., plus one expressing concern over the violence now occurring within the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
    So much strife. So much pain and death. All unnecessary.
   One message in my voice mail, from Mrs Fong, who was nice enough to call back to let me know she had received enough information to initiate the hearing process. Very good.
   I returned to the Weingart, and wrote for awhile before leaving again for the V.A. clinic for Dr. Lo’s 11:00 meeting.
   The Dr, a short, very fit and handsome, young Asian gentleman, holds this meeting weekly, about how the ASAP groups function. 6 of them are required for new clients. One of the reasons I was there was to ascertain how many of these groups I had attended.
   Today’s group concerned “Feedback” and was 5th in the series of required groups. I had already attended one feedback group, so now I know more about feedback than anyone could ever hope for.
   I cornered Dr Lo after the meeting I asked him what groups I still needed to attend to complete the series. Groups 3 and 4 it turns out.. Accordingly I won’t have to come back until September 19th. I also asked for a one on one consultation. He said he’d talk to me later, or have Kathy do it. I thanked him and left.
   I took a very crowded Dash to the Arco Plaza. No mail for me. I walked across the street to the library to use their pay phone, but had to wait 45 minutes until 1:00.
   I used one of the Internet connected computers to find out all that I could about my choice for governor, Mary Cook.
   Mary Carey (born June 15, 1980) is an American pornographic actress and film director.
   She was born Mary Ellen Cook in Cleveland, Ohio to a mother with schizophrenia and a father with cerebral palsy. Well that certainly was unfortunate. Her grandparents cared for her from the time she was three months old. After her parents divorced, her mother moved in with Carey and her grandparents. When she was seven years old, she moved with her family from Cleveland to Florida, and the next year she was legally adopted by her grandparents.
   Mary studied ballet from the age of seven until she was 19 years old. Ballet is not easy, I know from personal experience. She graduated in 1998 from the Pine Crest School, a Fort Lauderdale private preparatory school. At 19, she joined the dance team at Florida Atlantic University, where she was a student in the theater department. Very good.
   After her grandfather's death, her grandmother's health worsened and Mary took a job as an exotic dancer to help support the family financially. Upon noticing that the "feature dancers" made much more money, she asked an agent how she could become one. The agent recommended that she become a porn star (the large fan base that successful porn stars have gives them superior drawing power when they dance in-person at strip clubs). She traveled to Los Angeles and made the rounds of producers and studios in the adult film industry, eventually landing a job with Playboy TV. 
   Well, she became a porn star, and has appeared in a whole bunch of porn movies in order to help her family. That’s all I need to know. 
   She’s got my vote!
   I made a call to the DPSS main help line, and after being disconnected twice, I was referred to another number to request an NSA evaluation with a mental health worker (who knew the National Security Agency was involved with evaluating DPSS applicants... not me!) I’d make that call later.
   I had forgotten to mail my 3rd request for a hearing for the cash benefits I’m supposed to receive. I returned to the post office and got that done. I bought a loaf of wheat bread at Rite-Aid before signing in at the SRHT office. They had been closed all week due to remodeling. They had nice brand new floors now.
   I returned to my lonely room and continued to write.
   Manzano has disappeared. He wasn’t around for dinner at least. Taco salad by the way.
   I returned to the lobby after dinner and took a seat, which bothered my friend Glenda Ponigura, who works behind the desk in the evenings. She began work just as I got there, and usually gets my key as soon as she sees me without my having to say anything. I fooled her tonight though. She had my key all ready as I sat in the back, and looked at me as if to say, “What the Hell?”
   We smiled at each other, and I shrugged my shoulders as to say whatever was happening couldn’t be helped. 
   I can tell that she wants me... desperately.
   My friend Ron McCree walked in at 5:05. 
   “Five minutes late,” I told him. “No one’s on time around here.” 
   “You gonna start off bitching at me, huh?”
   Ronald James McCree is a tall, bald black man, about 4 years older than I am. We first met back at the Pasadena ARC (Salvation Army, Adult Rehabilitation Center) when he came in as a beneficiary while I was working as the residence manager. I was working as the residence manager because the powers that be there wanted Robert Vasquez and I to switch positions because they were afraid he was going to retire soon, and they thought I might be a little bit more flexible to work with than Robert. That worked for a while. We got new administrators in the form of Captain and Mrs Strickland. I was very fond of Mrs. Strickland, probably too fond, which did nothing to further my relationship with her husband. Anyway the powers that be soon discovered that I could easily be as much of a pain in the ass to work with as Robert had been, repeatedly requesting emergency supplies in case of a disaster, and having evacuation drills, and adhering to rules, and stuff like that. The program manager used my addiction to nicotine to get me fired (I was smoking up in the Sample Room’s bathroom where no one was supposed to be smoking), and I promptly relapsed after more than 4 years at the center.
   Such is life.
   Ron had been the residence manager at the downtown ARC, and had been fired for similar reasons, except in his case he had been using cocaine rather than cigarettes. So he came to Pasadena and we became friends. When I got downtown, and into the Weingart, and into the ASAP program, I met him again, at ASAP, and we continued our relationship, such that it was. He had a nice room in one of Skid Row Housing Trust’s hotels, the Boyd Hotel, to be specific, and had gotten me to sign up for my own room with that organization, of which I was currently on the waiting list.
   “Well, you gonna take me to the movies,” I asked.
   “No man. I can’t do that tonight. You keep making it sound like we’re going together.”
   “I do think you’re kind of cute.”
   “Oh man...”
   He wanted me to help him move a big TV Monday morning from his office at the Service Spot, to his apartment. I told him I’d meet him at 9:00 that day. We also made plans to register for a job fair on the 27th.
   Then he took off saying something about him leaving his food out somewhere.
   I returned to my room just in time to see Mitch Pileggi, the “X-Files,” Skinner, make a cameo appearance on “Dharma & Greg,” which was very exciting.
   Hey, when you’re sober you take your excitement wherever you can get it.
   The song “Man of Constant Sorrow,” had been playing through my head all day. That’s what I get for watching “Brother, Where Art Thou?” last night. 
   I turned the radio on to KLOS and recorded Led Zeppelin songs all night. “Man of Constant Sorrow” couldn’t compete with Jimmy Page, and went away.
   I had a strange dream tonight (I know... it’s hard to believe), involving my friend from the front desk, Glenda, and Rosario Dawson, the beautiful and talented star of “Men in Black II,” 30 gallons of lemon jello, a centrifuge, 48 rubber bands of assorted sizes, 6 large ducks, and a trampoline.
   Very strange.

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