Sunday, May 25, 2014

Skid Row Diary 26

15 September 2003    Monday   Day 65

   I got up at a reasonable hour, listening to Mark and Brian talk about the past weekend’s professional football games. They go on and on about sport at times. One would think they were listening to ESPN. 
   Usually their female listeners call in to complain about it, gently bringing them out of their sports trance, to continue on with the observations and comedy that we know and love so well.
   Not wanting to wait until their sanity returned (or some semblance of it), I turned off the radio and switched to T.V., to see what Giselle was up to.
   Her usual tricks. Pants again. 
   I don’t mind so much anymore. I realize that I am powerless over issues such as this and have come to terms with it.
   For a moment I thought there was a cute female guest host on today, and it took me a while to realize that the second half of the lady co-host contingent of Despierta America (there are 4 co-hosts, 2 female, and 2... uh, male) had grown out her hair very quickly over the weekend, and darkened it into a tarish brown, abandoning her usual short, pixy blonde bangs she had sported just last Friday (it’s good that I keep a record of these things). I thought of the possibility that she may have donned a wig, and immediately discounted that idea.
   Ana Maria Canseco was looking pretty hot today! Not only that, she was quite attractive as well. 
   I should say “particularly” attractive today, not wishing to imply she didn’t look hot on any other day.
   I had things to do, so left my Spanish speaking friends in Miami (fortunately Hurricane Isabel looks like it will bypass Florida altogether. It would become the costliest, deadliest, and strongest hurricane of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season), and left for the county’s mental health department on Maple.
   Anthony, my social worker, the person I had to see, was not in however.
   “Will he been in tomorrow?” I asked.
   “I hope so,” was my reply.
   Undaunted, I continued on to the One Stop Job Source Center. A computer was available, and I checked my E-mail (nothing), and updated some files and printed them.
   I had six voice mail messages, two from John at Priority Personnel requesting I call him back. Three from Mrs.  Mythleridge from the Appeals Board. She sounded a tad exasperated as she had been trying to get a hold of me for the last six days and my hearing was scheduled for this Wednesday. She said she had figured out something about my food stamps and needed to talk to me. I was perfectly willing to do this, but she wasn’t in the office when I called. I didn’t leave a message.
   I did get a hold of John at Priority, who said he had a call center position open for $13 an hour. We went over the qualifications and he said he would send them my resume.
   Before leaving I used the word processor to write a letter to John Manzano. It went almost exactly like this:
   “Dear John:
   I’ve always wanted to write a Dear John Letter. Now’s my chance.
   I received your calls on my voice mail, what, two weeks ago? Or actually that’s when I checked it. I think you called a week before that. I sent you an E-mail the day I got your messages, but haven’t gotten anything back from you (they have this thing in Camarillo, it’s just down the street, east of Vons. It’s called a library, and they have these things there that are called computers that they’ll let you use if you ask very nicely. You can check your E-mail on these things. Give it a try sometime). I’ve tried to call your house several times, despite the enormous cost, but either the circuits are busy (the operator keeps asking me to wait, “Please wait... please wait... please wait..., on and on. What a boring job, huh?), or no one answers (buy your poor mother an answering machine for God’s sake). So now I’m forced to use snail mail.
   Don’t worry about it. I’ve used it before.
   So you couldn’t take the pressure here, huh? Don’t be ashamed, many can’t. Even though I said I’d protect you. I guess you got too scared and had to leave, like a crying, simpering little baby. Maybe it’s for the best. 
   I hope everything is good with you and you’re working real hard to get your kids back, and have a good life with them.
   I’m doing alright. Gary is finally being terminated and will be moving to Seattle tomorrow morning. Unless he does something different he’s only going to wind up doing the same thing up there that he did down here, and he knows it. I’ll be leaving the Weingart soon myself. My nine months are up soon. I’ll probably get an apartment around here, like McCree has, and wind up in the CWT program, working at the VA hospital for a year. That’s the plan. And to keep writing and learning. And going to movies, of course. I saw ‘The Matchstick Men,’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico,’ last week.  
   Write, or E-mail to me to let me know what’s up. You have my voice mail number, but I don’t usually check it every day, and it won’t be working after I move out of the Weingart.
   I wish you well. Say hello to your mother for me.”
   Next I took a Dash to the VA Clinic and signed in at ASAP, but did not attend the 1:00 group meeting. No one was there. I couldn’t even leave a urine sample. And the guy in charge of CWT referral wasn’t around, so I left and walked to the DPSS office on 4th Pl.
   After going through the metal detector, and checking in, I took a seat in the lobby and began reading “2061, Odyssey 3.” I’d read it once before but had forgotten most of it. Dr Heywood Floyd was featured  again, this time at a sprightly 103 years old., and visiting Halley's Comet during a pass through the inner solar system. Apparently living in the reduced gravity of outer space prolongs one’s life. Who knew?
   It’s sad there we’re all trapped in this time, 348 years before death is cured, with the solar system colonized as to alleviate the over population of Earth. But what can you do?
   After a while I was called to report to Booth Number 9, where a middle aged Asian gentleman told me my case worker was not in today, and asked me what is was that I wanted. I had three items I wished to discuss, two of which he could not, or chose not to help me with. He did make an appointment for me to see one of their mental health representatives. And that appointment was immediate.
   Or almost. I read some more of the Clark book before being called to Window 3, where I met a Mr. Boyle. He led me to a small conference room and let me know he’d be asking me a few questions. I was given a NSA (Needs Special Assistance) evaluation. 
   Usually his clients are referred to him by the case workers, and he was somewhat surprised that I had actually requested this. I told him my sad story; not having worked since 2000. my estrangement from my sister, the depression and the meds, addiction difficulties, my living situation. He asked questions.
   He was very nice and thoughtful. He was concerned that I had no outward support system, family and such, that could help me if I needed. But alas, no, I do not. Just you, dear readers. You’re the only support I have.
   God bless you, and your families.
   He placed me in the NSA Program, for at least 4 or 5 months, which is exactly what I wanted. Now no time, or term limits would be placed on my GR food stamp claim, and instead of nine months out of the year, I would continue to receive benefits for twelve.
   When asked why I had requested the interview I was quite honest in telling him the practical considerations involved. There was no reason to lie.
   He gave me a nice form to take to mental health, to confirm I was being seen there, and that was that. We shook hands, and I left.
   After checking my mail (nothing) I returned to my room and began writing. Gary Porch came by. He had just gotten the money the Weingart had been holding for him, but was all in a tither about his next move. He had been at the VA clinic today, talking to the social workers there, and the suggestion of being transfered to The Haven, the drug and alcohol program at the hospital complex in Westwood was put to him. Either try that or move on to Seattle in the morning. He is court committed to an alcohol program, so the Haven was an opportunity to meet that requirement. If instead he went to Seattle, he would become a fugitive in California and might have a television show produced based on his exploits. 
   I don’t know what his final decision became, possibly neither. With all of that money in his pocket he may just binge out until it’s all gone. If I were him that’s what I’d do.
   We had dinner together, shook hands, and said our goodbyes.
   “I’d give you my P O address, but you won’t write, so I won’t,” I told him.
   “Give it to me anyway,” he said.
   I wish him well.
   Except for Charley downstairs I have no more friends here at the Weingart. Charlie will be leaving here soon too.
   But so will I.
   I continued reading and writing up in my room. I watched “The Simpsons,” and a new syndicated program on the Fox Fall schedule, “King of Queens,” starring the beautiful and talented Leah  Remini, and Jerry Stiller (father of Ben).
   Leah is a force of nature to be reckoned with.
   As chance would have it, I experienced a dream with her in it tonight. We were lying on the beach in the sunny Caribbean, her on my left, and Ana Maria Canseco on my right. They were each wearing identical bikinis, and large straw hats that protected their lovely faces from the harsh sun. We were drinking from frosty bottles of Corona, and making fun of everybody who wasn’t there doing exactly what we were doing.
   Everything was just wonderful until the girls started arguing about who I would apply suntan lotion on first.
   Silly girls. I had time for both of them. 
   In the end I had to flip a coin.

16 September    Tuesday    Day 66

   When I called Mrs. Mythleridge I got her answering machine again. I was running out of time on this, so I left a message asking her to please go ahead with whatever it was she had found, and that I had no intention of showing up for the hearing scheduled for tomorrow.
   When I was at 5th and Broadway to buy some cigs, I decided to try her again. She had just left a message on my voice mail letting me know that she had received my message, and that she had found something, and I would never find out what it was, that would stop the county in it’s efforts to collect the $403 in food stamps I allegedly owed, but she still needed me to call her to confirm that it was alright if she went ahead with her recommendations. 
   Hell yes! The best that I had hoped for was a reduction in the amount the county wanted to take back, and I had just about given up on that. But to get the entire overpayment dismissed, yeah, I could handle that. 
   I called her again, getting her answering machine... again, and left a message giving her permission to continue with the fine work she was doing, and thanked her.
   I returned to the Weingart very pleased with myself.
   I spent the day in quiet meditation and reflection, and of course wrote.
   I finished reading 2061, an adventure and rescue story really, which didn’t add a whole lot to the overall “saga.”
   I watched Spanish language soap operas, or novellas, on Univision. If I could have understood what the actors were saying I probably wouldn’t be able to stand watching them. On all the soap operas that I’ve ever seen, it seems like no one has anything at all better to do than get all up in other people’s business. And in the soap opera world, no one ever kicks back and watches T.V. Everything is always so damn URGENT!
   Why do I watch? Have you ever seen the ladies on Spanish speaking soap operas? 
   Enough said.
   Speaking of Spanish speaking ladies, I was happy to see that the lovely and talented Myrka Dellanos was back from vacation, or back from something, and had returned to her co-anchor desk on Primer Impacto, Univison’s afternoon news program. 
   I had missed her. She is without a doubt the most knowledgeable, concise, professional, and most experienced newsperson I’ve ever come across. 
   And I’d like her a lot more probably if I could understand what it was she was saying.
   But it really doesn’t matter.
   A lovely tribute to John Ritter was aired at 8:00, in the usual “8 Simple Rules,” time slot. His life story was told, with all (or most) of his friends present. I got a little misty when Katey Sagal kept crying. I was glad to hear that ABC was going to continue the show in a way that I thought would be the most viable and respectful. The family depicted on the show will suffer the death of it’s father, and Katey’s character will assume more responsibility for the maintenence of her daughters, in accordance with the show’s title.
   Perhaps Henry Winkler’s character will become more involved. He occasionally played John’s boss. 
   We shall see.
   I had the strangest dream in which I too was somehow on the set of the John Ritter tribute show, crying my eyes out, yet the show’s cast were not present. Myrka Dellanos and Gina Lynn, the lovely and talented star of “Kiss of the Black Widow, “ and “Diamond Dog,” and many other fine films, were though. The two pretty ladies were nice enough to console me, telling me everything will be alright... eventually, before changing into their respective space bikinis, on our way to the sunny and sandy Caribbean to suck down a few frosty Coronas.
   I had to flip another coin.

17 September    Wednesday    Day 67

   Not much to write about today. I’m in total relapse mode.
   I had hoped I’d hear something back about a job, but no messages were left.
   Mrs.  Mythleridge was the only one to leave something for me. She would send me a letter confirming the actions she would take, and wanted me to return it immediately with my signature.
   Everybody wants something from me.
   I wrote and read and meditated.
   I had an amazing dream involving Sarah Jane Hamilton, the beautiful and talented star of “The Face,” and Jessica Rabbit, the animated star of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” It was too sordid to go into any details, other than it involved an organ grinder, 37 pounds of roquefort cheese, 13 bags of un-popped microwave popcorn, bolt cutters, a drained Olympic sized swimming pool, 8 puffer fish, a meat lover’s pizza, a tow truck, 7 Himalayan yaks, a 2nd edition copy of “Paradise Lost,” 48 ball bearings, the Mona Lisa, and a trampoline.
   This is got to stop!

18 September    Thursday   Day 68

   As I got off of the bus during my daily jaunt downtown (no phone messages, no mail), I saw John Manzano hanging out in front of the Weingart. 
   “Did you get my letter?” I asked as we shook hands.
   “Yeah. Did you get mine?”
   “No. What are you doing down here?”
   He was here to pick up two bags of clothes he had left behind. A friend had given him a ride from Camarillo and was waiting for him down the street in a blue Chevy.
   He seemed to be doing well, living at his mom’s house. He may be getting an assembly job at Technicolor, but he wants to return to the downtown area.
   “Save twelve hundred maybe, then get back down here, get back on union jobs. I can’t stay in Cam. I get into too much trouble there.”
   He wanted me to call him. We shook hands and he took off. I went to lunch.
   Sesame Chicken.
   Up in my lonely room I wrote and finished the last book in Clark’s “Odyssey Saga,” “3001, the Final Odyssey.” Good old Frank Poole, the first astronaut that the Hal 9000 computer murdered back in 2001, was found floating out around Neptune and resurrected 1000 years after he had been killed, which was exceptionally fortuitous for him. He served as the books protagonist
   I must say I’m a bit disappointed in the way Dr. Clark played out this drama. Dave Bowman and Hal are reduced to circuits within a monolith’s memory bank, and no explanation is offered on how Poole was brought back to life, as if bringing back 1000 year old, brain dead, vacuum sealed, and cosmic ray riddled human beings is as common as a trip to Pluto. The monolith, and it’s governing intelligence, with out any discernable reason, turn malevolent towards the human race, of which it helped to create, and the speed of light limit is either used or disregarded at the author’s convenience. All of these things, and a few others, have made this book the least satisfactory of Clark’s I’ve ever read.
   I did enjoy Chapter 19, “The Madness of Mankind,” wherein the character Dr. Theodore Khan, likened sincere belief in religion to insanity, or mental impairment. He hedges this rather harsh idea in the “Valediction,” at the books end, by saying:
   “Finally, I would like to assure my many Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim friends that I am sincerely happy that the religion that chance has given to you has contributed to your peace of mind (and often, as Western medical science now reluctantly admits, to your physical well being).
   Perhaps it’s better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is best of all to be sane and happy.”
   Some time around 10:00 Hurricane Isabel rolled into the Carolinas, with winds averaging 105 miles per hour.  Virginia reported the most deaths and damage from the hurricane. About 64% of the damage and 68% of the deaths occurred in North Carolina and Virginia. Roughly six million people were left without electric service. The fictional town of Mayberry, N.C. was totally inundated. Damage totaled approximately 5.7 billion dollars American. The hurricane affected  the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Greater Antilles, Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Washington, D.C., and Ontario, which is in Canada. 16 deaths in seven U.S. states were directly related to Isabel, with 35 deaths in six states and one Canadian province indirectly related to her. 
   Hurricane Isabel is a good reason to live in California where all we experience are massive earthquakes once in a while, which makes life here interesting.
   I noticed in the television guide that “Star Trek, Voyager,” is no longer featured at 3:00a.m. on UPN. I thought to myself, “How shall I retaliate.”
   I began reading Peter Straub’s “Floating Dragon,” his farewell to the horror genre (excluding the two  Talisman books he wrote with Stephen King). I’ve read this novel before as well, but didn’t remember it clearly. Perhaps I had been inebriated at the time of my reading it, who knows?
   I do remember one anachronism found again, referring to William Goldman’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Straub mistakenly placed Butch and Sundance in Bolivia at the time they blew up the safe on the train. In fact, the two had not yet left the U.S. at that time.
   But so what? My supply of useless knowledge is inexhaustible. 
   When I eventually went to sleep I dreamt that Melissa George visited me here in my room, which wasn’t so lonely for a change. The beautiful and talented star of “Dark City,” was dressed only in a cloak of chain mail that came to mid-thigh.
   “Rick... Rick, wake up.”
   She woke me up in my dream by gently shaking my dream shoulder. I looked up and she smiled down upon me. 
   “Hi Melissa. What’s up?”
   “I came to tell you that a special visitor will come to see you tomorrow night. It’s time you two should meet.”
   “A visitor? Who?”
   “You’ll find out,” she assured. “I can’t say much more, and I want to go. This thing you have me wearing is cold.”
   “How do I know this is real?” I asked. “You could be nothing but a bit of sour mustard, or a bad pop tart.” 
   “You know it’s real,” she exclaimed. “Anyway, you’re out of pop tarts.”
   “Well since you’re here, could you rub my back for me? It’s kind of sore.”
   “I have to go now,” she said, ignoring me, speaking in her soft Australian accent. “Good luck.”
   “Okay. say hello to your cousin for me.”
   “I will.” She kissed me on my cheek, got up and left through my door. I could hear her garment jingle as she made her way to the elevators.
   Then I dreamed that I went back to sleep.

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