Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Begging Bowl Begins

I rarely watch American television these days. Through the marvel of the internet, I can watch interesting programs from all over the world when I want to watch them and without those dreaded commercials. I can get the BBC news; my British Soap dramas and Little Britain from the UK; Trailer Park Boys from Canada; Australian programs. It takes ten minutes to download my nightly episode of Eastenders from London only a few hours after it actually airs.

I do have one habit regarding American television and it is that of enjoying Public Broadcasting programs. I am lucky that I have two to choose from: Alabama (APTV) and Georgia (GPTV). Late in the evening, I will tune to Public Broadcasting and listen to it as I browse and write in front of this computer. I enjoy programs such as Nova, Frontline, Masterpiece Theater, old British Comedies, etc.

Well, that dreaded time is upon us again and it disrupts my routine and aggravates me. It is when they beg for money and completely change their normal programming. This drives me crazy and I tune out. APTV and GPTV turn into this weird pseudo-MTV for old farts. They only show various genre specific music specials and then stop from time to time to beg for money. I would be more apt to send them some money if I got more great shows like maybe a Nova special or National Geographic Presents. Noooo… I get some tired old little known band from the sixties playing on a stage. They all look like they’re about to fall over from too much exertion.

Exhaustion

What an exhausting day! My great aunt is obsessed with the fiasco that was great aunt Jessie’s death and the surrounding issues regarding the will. Uncle Bob somehow managed to keep all the money and has refused to give any to his step children. My great aunt talked for hours about this. The details grew more and more exaggerated the more she talked about it. She is under the assumption that Uncle Bob got a lawyer to doctor the will. She was also supposed to get all of Aunt Jessie’s clothes and Uncle Bob refused. This pissed her off as well. Who would want an elderly dead lady’s clothes? The thought of wearing them makes me shudder.

My great aunt lives way out in the country in a small town on the other side of this county. I had to drive all the way out there and pick her up and then drive back here to the doctor’s office. We then had to wait three hours to visit the doctor. There is nothing more exhausting to me than sitting around in doctor’s waiting rooms. They did an EKG on her and didn’t find anything wrong. Doc thinks she must have just had some muscle spasms in her side that scared her. She had been sweeping the floor vigorously when the pain started and after all she is eighty-eight years old. I then had to repeat both long drives again for a total of 128 miles driven today. I didn’t get home until well after dark.

Pipe, I did get my injection yesterday. It is a rather long story so I will try to keep it concise. My doctor is very, very close friends with my father. He learned from Andrea, his nurse that I didn’t show up for my injection yesterday and personally called my father at work. Dad had my mother come over immediately and force me to go get my injection which extremely embarrassed me. She drove me down there.

It is hard to explain, but if I ever get off my medications for an extended period of time (say two or three days) then it becomes intoxicating. It is hard for me to get back on them. I start to get delusions that my family is trying to control my mind by forcing me to take them. It is a vicious cycle. The Thanksgiving holiday is what ultimately got all this screwed up as my doctor’s office had an extended closure over the holidays and the time for my injection fell on that period.

On my car camping experiment, I am still going to keep my home at first and do this gradually I think. It will take a few weeks until I become acclimated to this lifestyle. At first, my family will be none the wiser. I will have all preparations in place before truly beginning this journey and letting my family know of my decision. I will still have my apartment to fall back on in case of emergency for many weeks to come. I am going to be smart about this. I not just going to run out and start living in my car overnight. I may even change my mind if gets too cold and is much harder to bear than I realized.

On the good news front, I did get one of my older laptops to boot up and recognize my wi-fi card. My card connected to my wireless router. This means that I will be able to get on the web twenty four hours a day at a local Krystals restaurant that offers free wireless access in town. That was one of my biggest worries about my upcoming experiment; not having ready access to the internet. Problem solved.

Operation Freedom

(To Di: sorry I was asleep when you called yesterday. I appreciate your concern and your calls very much. I know I sounded terrible when you spoke to me. My mind was still fuzzy from the beer I had drunk and I was still half asleep. I hope to talk to you again soon, but it may be in a few weeks.)

__________________________


Within the next few days I will embark upon a journey of discovery. Today, I have to take my great aunt to the doctor and it will be an all afternoon affair. Tomorrow I will start my preparations for living in my car for an extended term.

I think I have everything worked out. I will use a local library for internet access. I also have two very old laptops with a wi-fi access card. Maybe I can get one of them to work again. I have to get a gym membership for my showers and shaves. I will take care of that tomorrow depending on their plans and how expensive they are. I will use the local coin operated Laundromat to wash and dry my clothes. I need to get the windows on my car tinted for privacy. I think I will be able to do that myself. I also need to get a Post Office box for mail.

My biggest concern is keeping warm. I am very cold natured. Although the days are relatively mild here in the South during the winter, it does get close to freezing every night. I am hoping my two sleeping bags will be proficient and will keep me warm. I will put plenty of blankets and quilts in the car just in case.

Another big concern is finding a safe and quiet sleeping spot to park my car at nights. There is a large nearby textile manufacturing plant that runs around the clock all three shifts. There is a very large open parking lot that is always full of cars. I am thinking it will not look suspicious if I park there every night to sleep. We will just have to try it and see.

Some of you may be wondering why I am doing this. I have many reasons. It is something I have always wanted to try and I have read extensively about it. I am also in a very unhealthy living arrangement with regards to my family. I have very little freedom. The urge to do this has been building for a long time. I would rather live homeless than to be controlled and taken care of. I do not feel like a grown man and am more like a child. I have tasted true freedom once before and once you experience it; it is hard to give up. It takes a lot of sacrifices to obtain and I am willing to go to the furthest links to regain it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Darkness on a Stormy Night

I open my eyes to the sound of thunder and flashes of lightning as I lay in bed. Nature’s grand drama plays outside my windows. The only light other than the lightning is that of the pilot light of my gas heater. Its flickering light casts eerie shadows throughout the room.

I walk into the den and sit down in front of my computer in the dark. I fumble for a cigarette and my lighter. Finally, I put one into my mouth and light it. As I take each draw, the room lights up with a slight orange glow from the embers. The smoke curls around my face.

I sit here all alone in a dark room as the rest of the country sleeps. My thoughts haunt me and turn to beer. I walk to the refrigerator and pull out a can. The light from the fridge as I open it is stark and harsh. I squint from its bright glow. I shut the fridge and then sit in the dark again. I crack open the beer and take a drink and another and another. The effects of the alcohol soon start to calm my mind. It feels like butterflies in my stomach.

I am now on my fourth beer. I am feeling comfortably numb. Nature still rages outside my windows and each flash of lightning brightens the room in an instance. The rain pours in sheets and the pattering of it is a pervading noise. Here I sit all alone in the dark; one lonely man and his beer.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sleepless in the Valley

(Late night ramblings of a sleepless blogger.)

My sleeping habits are all screwed up. I sleep in spurts. I will be up for about four hours and sleep four hours. I don’t know what has got me on this routine. Maybe the holidays and no work? It is 3 a.m. in the morning and I am wide awake.

Tomorrow at 9 a.m. is my injection of risperdal consta. I have been obsessing all night over what to wear. I have to wear easy access clothing as I get my shot in the bum. It is too cold for my usual athletic pull-up shorts I wear. If I wear blue jeans then that means I have to unbutton my pants and pull them down; a highly embarrassing proposition. I wish my life was simpler in regards to these things. I also wish I just didn’t give a shit about what my nurse thinks. I am extremely modest when it comes to exposing my ass.

A few months ago, my nurse injected my shot into the small of my back by neglect or accident instead of the ole derriere. Now, a large, tight lump has formed there. I mentioned it to my brother, but downplayed the concern over it. He flew back to San Diego without ever looking at it. My mind races at the thoughts that it may be cancer, but it doesn’t hurt at all. It just feels weird and occasionally I will rub it to see if it has grown.

You know what I would like most in the world about now? A large thin-crust double pepperoni pizza from Papa John’s. Alas, they are closed. I love to dip the pieces in the ranch sauce you can order as I eat them. I can almost taste that cheese and pepperoni now. My stomach grumbles loudly at the prospect. They open tomorrow at 11 a.m. and I think as soon as I cash my weekly “payday” check, I will pay them a visit.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dreary Weather and Hearts as Well

It is rainy, cold, and overcast here. A dreary day and the sun is setting. No stars to see out my window tonight. I am sitting here quietly typing as the hissing of my gas heater plays in the background.

I got another letter from the diocese in Birmingham about my and my ex-wife’s annulment. This process seems to be never ending. I wish they would just give it to my ex-wife and get it over. I know this is terrible, but I no longer open the letters. They go straight into the trash after my walk from the mailbox. It did bring an emotional response from me today. After I came inside, I quietly sat looking at the only picture of my ex-wife that I have. The same picture she used in our wedding announcement in the local paper. I cried softly while looking at it. I know it would have never worked, but it is still hard to know that my only marriage ended in failure and disaster.

I did get down to the Piggly Wiggly today and saw George. He was in high spirits. I inquired about his Thanksgiving. He said he had bought one of those rotisserie chickens down at the local Wal-Mart deli and made some stove-top stuffing. He had just driven all the way down to Auburn to buy beer as they don’t sell it here on Sunday. He offered me several, but I declined. I am on a fast from anything alcohol related.

George also told me that HIV/AIDS Guy got arrested again. This time he was shoplifting at the Piggly Wiggly and got caught. I don’t understand why this idiot shoplifts food when he has perfectly good food stamps. I guess it must be the thrill of getting away with it. I told George that it served him right. It will make for a much more pleasant experience visiting the Pig without him begging me for cigarettes and money.

Weird Habits

I am developing weird habits lately. I sleep in spurts. I will stay awake for about four hours and sleep four hours; highly uncharacteristic of me. So it is now 2:14 a.m. and I am up while the rest of the country sleeps. I can see stars twinkling outside my window as I write this.

My most enjoyed aspect of the holidays is the left over turkey sandwiches. My father brought me a zip-lock bag of left over turkey. I heat up a few slices in the microwave and enjoy them with ample amounts of mayonnaise on slices of Roman Meal bread. Um, um, delicious. I have eaten four sandwiches today. I am such a glutton.

I did see George earlier today. I inquired about his holiday. He said he purchased one of those rotisserie chickens down at the deli in the local Wal-Mart. He also made some stove-top stuffing. It was just him, his mother, and a cousin for thanksgiving. He also said he got plastered and was hung over for two days. I don’t see how he does it. I hate hangovers.

I also learned from George that HIV/AIDS Guy got arrested again. He is on a crime wave. George said he was shoplifting petty items at the Piggly Wiggly and got caught. This now makes two times in one month that he got arrested. HIV/AIDS Guy is a class A idiot. He has food stamps and still shoplifts. It must be the thrill. It will certainly make for a more enjoyable experience of visiting the Pig not having him beg me for money or cigarettes. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Table Talk

Ah, my favorite time of the morning. It is 6:45 am. The horizon is awash in hues of orange as the sun will soon appear. It is about time to have my first pipe of the day outside on the porch to welcome in the dawn; my usual ritual over a cup of coffee.

Yesterday, it was interesting to hear my sister and brother talk “shop” about their professions. Over the thanksgiving meal, my sister casually discussed the two prostate exams she had given the night before. My brother talked about the tracheotomy he had to perform the week before. Not your usual conversations over lunch. They live on opposite sides of the country now and enjoy catching up.

My sister then told us the tale of a doctor nicknamed Squirrel whom she works with. She also went to medical school with him. She said during medical school he was notorious for having too much to drink and getting undressed at a moments notice. He was also notorious for cutting up and making light of dire circumstances. He once took the arm of a cadaver and was using it to hit a baseball like a baseball bat. We all listened quietly and laughed at intervals as the tale unfolded.

One evening, my sister and Squirrel were in charge of the hospital emergency room. A young black gang banger was admitted for a gun shot wound to the face. He asked his doctor, Squirrel, if he was going to live. Squirrel replied that, indeed, the good news was that he would live, but he had bad news as well. The young gang banger, who was very drunk and high at the time, asked cautiously what the bad news was. Squirrel replied that he needed a head transplant. The gang banger was smitten with grief and believed this news.

Squirrel then replied that there was even worse news. The gang banger urged him to tell him more. Squirrel replied that they were all out of black heads and only had Hispanic heads left. The gang banger cried with remorse and decreed that he would never be able to face his mother with a Hispanic head. Squirrel casually laughed and then told the young gang banger the good news and that he was just kidding. The gang banger sighed with relief and hugged Squirrel.

I thought this tale was hilarious, but it was hard to capture in words in the way my sister told it. I am not sure if I captured it’s essence of humor or not, but I tried. Anyways, good morning to all and here’s to the start of a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

It should be easy to write about your own life, shouldn’t it? Well, I am having a hell of a time with it. Everything I write just seems like crap to me. I hope to be back up to form in a few days after a short break.

I did have a weird experience last night. I awoke around 2 AM in the morning and went on a mad cleaning spree. A few hours later my apartment was spotless. I even went so far as to polish all my furniture and cabinets. It smells like a lemon tree grove in here. What a odd time of the day to get on a cleaning spree.

Anyways, I want to take this time to wish everyone who stops by a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Dad is cooking a turkey tomorrow and homemade dressing. I cannot wait as that is one of my favorite meals. Also, the turkey sandwiches the week after will be a welcomed treat. I just hope we don’t get any of the Bumpuses’ dogs around here after dad pulls the turkey out of the oven.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Experimental Camping

Let’s see. What have I been up to? Neglecting my blog for one; doing a lot of backyard camping for another.

Sunday, I set up my nice Kelty tent in the backyard to check for leaks and to seam seal it. I knew we had a lot of rain and stormy weather on the way; a good opportunity to do this task. I ended up spending several days outside to see how my winter gear was working. I would come in from time to time to eat, bathe, and check the internet.

There is nothing more comforting to me than to be wrapped up in my warm sleeping bag reading a book by the flickering light of my candle lantern as the rain softly patters on the fabric of my tent. My neighbor’s dog, Rosie, spent several nights with me in the tent as well and was a good companion. She got an ample supply of sardines for her devotion. It was damn cold though and I had to experiment with different clothing to stay warm as I couldn’t build a fire in my backyard.

I doing this just drives my parents crazy. They think I am off my rocker or in other words getting mentally ill again. My father can’t understand why I would rather sleep in a tent rather than in my own warm bed. Dad went so far as to call the doctor’s office to see if I got my last injection! It also doesn’t help that I am trying to grow a beard and it is at the scruffy looking and scraggly point. Dad sees this as another sign that something is not quite right. I just have to keep reassuring them that I am okay and stay low key about my activities. I guess I am being selfish by doing this stuff and worrying them. I then tell myself that I am grown man and should be able to do some things that I enjoy.

__________________________

I managed to get down to the Piggly Wiggly around lunch time today. There is always something going on down there it seems. I did see one quite interesting if not sad event.

There was a police cruiser sitting in front of the dollar store. This causes the groupies to flee like turning on a light in a cheap motel room and watching the roaches scatter.

A young lady was walking to the dollar store dragging a young kid behind her who was screaming and hollering. Apparently, he wasn’t interested in the bargains the store offered. I guess the young lady didn’t see the police cruiser and back handed the little kid behind the head like John McEnroe. It shocked me when I saw it.

Well, this didn’t sit well with the policeman and he got out of his patrol car and walked over. He gave the lady a stern lecture about not hitting children. I was expecting her to get taken away on a child endangerment charge or other. He let her go with just a warning.

A Grand Day!

It had been a rainy, cold, and overcast day yesterday. I had my tent set up in the backyard to check for leaks. For most of the day, I laid in my sleeping bag, reading books, and smoking as the rain pattered softly on the fabric of my tent. Occasionally, I would come in and look at the weather on the internet. I had a very enjoyable day. It was as close as I could come to camping in this weather although it was cold.

Earlier, yesterday morning, I walked over to my parent’s house and spent time with my sister-in-law and niece. Mom, dad, and my brother were still asleep. Ella was busy cleaning the house and doing laundry. My sister-in-law was cooking breakfast for the two of them and asked me if I wanted some as well. She cooked us all fried eggs, bacon, and toasted biscuits. It is so good to have them home from San Diego and I enjoyed spending time with them and talking. My sister-in-law is so easy to be around and I feel comfortable with her.

Growing disappointment…..

My disappointment is growing with my psychology class and instructor. I spent most of the evening studying and I realized all I was doing was memorizing the correct answer without understanding the concepts or why. It makes it pointless to read the book or even crack it open because we are given the actual exam as a study guide. Why go to all that trouble when my other classes are keeping me so busy? It’s important to my major that’s why. I made myself read chapter two and made an effort to understand the concepts. I will just have to look at this class as if it were an online course offering. It is up to me to learn and understand the material and not have an instructor guide me. We still haven’t taken any relevant notes in class and we are starting the third week! Okay, thanks for letting me bitch a little. It feels good to vent my frustrations for a short, few moments.

My first class is at 12 PM tomorrow and my next class isn’t until 7:30 PM. I don’t have to work tomorrow so I am going to use all that idle time to study or at least try. I am going to stay at school and work in the spacious student lounge. I’ve got my backpack all packed and ready to go for in the morning. Now it is time to grab a shower, get a quick bite to eat, and head for bed and read some more. It will be a brutally cold night tonight for the south and the warm comforters of my plush bed await me. I am ready surround myself with them.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Restlessness

Yesterday evening, I felt as if I was about to jump out of my skin. I am not sure if it is my new medication or not. It was a feeling of restlessness and agitation. Every little thing was getting on my nerves. I loaded up my backpack with my gear and headed out spring road to camp for the night. I wanted to go where nobody could find me or bother me. I was not in the fame of mind to have any visitors and it was likely with my whole family in town for the holidays. Also, Charlie had been in and out of the upstairs of this house all day and it was causing me panic attacks that he would visit or inquire about me.

I pitched my tent amidst a stand of old growth hardwood trees well off from the road and climbed inside pulling all my gear in with me. It was very chilly and I wrapped myself up in my warm sleeping bag and read by the flickering glow of my candle lantern. Soon, the patter of rain could be heard softly failing on the fabric of my tent. It was a surreal moment and comforting as well; no noise other than that soft patter. I soon grew very sleepy and blew out my lantern and tried to drift off to sleep. My mind raced with a hundred thoughts and kept me awake. I laid there for the longest time in the pitch black confines of my tent. Finally, at some point past midnight, my mind grew quiet and I went to sleep.

I awoke this morning and it was still raining softly. It had turned much colder overnight and I just rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. No amount of trying worked and I finally got up and put on some warm clothes. I gathered up all my gear and put it back into my backpack. I sat as the rain fell wondering how I was going to hike home without getting wet and catching pneumonia in the process. I should have paid better attention to the forecast, but probably would have gone anyway. It is times like these that I feel most alive and at one with nature.

I finally mustered up enough courage to head home. I put on my backpack’s rain cover and my poncho as well. I started hiking up that long hill climb towards home in an icy cold rain. I arrived home with my legs soaking wet and cold, but my upper body was still dry and warm. I now wish I would have stayed out there and just slept the day away. I still feel restless and agitated as if the weight of the world is bearing down upon my shoulders. The only thing comforting about today is the sound of rain falling outside my windows. I wish I had a magic pill to take that would make me feel better.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Rosie, Go Home

My neighbor’s dog, Rosie, comes by everyday like clockwork. She will sit right outside my window until I notice her and go out. I have been feeding her a tin of cheap sardines and she loves them. Often, I will lay down with her on the grass and give her ample belly rubs and back scratches.

Today, I sat out for my daily walk and Rosie just happened to be over. She started to follow me and no amount of persuasion could get her to go home. An elderly lady was recently killed by a pitbull in town and the animal control officer has really been active lately. I have seen her patrol my street many times the past few days. I feared that Rosie would be captured and taken to the pound. I finally turned around and retraced my steps so Rosie would follow me home. I gave her another tin of sardines and snuck off as she ate them.

It was a cool, cloudy, and overcast day as I walked. The sky was threatening rain; typical weather for the south around Thanksgiving time. As I walked up my street, my other neighbor has two Boston terriers in a fence in their backyard. They ran over barking furiously as I journeyed by their house following me along the contour of the fence. You would think they would have tired of this game after all the many times I have followed these steps on my travels down to the Piggly Wiggly.

The Piggly Wiggly was extraordinarily busy today. They were having a sale on Thanksgiving turkeys. The parking lot was full and people were busily coming to and fro from within the store. I bought my usual chocolate milk and cheese on wheat crackers and sat outside on the bench next to Weasel. Weasel has mellowed up after regaining his home despite having the mother from hell.

Ferret wanted to know why I and George are such good friends and hang out together. I had a hard time explaining our relationship. He thinks it is odd that a young white guy and an older, middle-aged black man hang out together. I tried to explain that George confuses me with someone else earlier in his life. Ferret was under the misconception that I was a “homo” and was giving George “favors.” This brought a big laugh out of me. The last thing on my mind is anything sexually to do with George.

Friday, November 18, 2005

My Turning Point

I think this new medication is starting to help me. I am more sociable and outgoing. Take yesterday for instance. I got out and spent all day with a family member. I usually sit in this house alone and am perfectly content with it. I wanted to get out and be with someone else yesterday (other than the groupies) and that is odd for me. So far, no manic episodes, but sometimes I can’t tell when that happens.

It is also novel that I am actually taking a medication in pill form. I am horrible at taking pills. I just don’t remember to do so. Before I started getting risperdal in an injection form, I would miss a few days and it was like a snowball rolling down hill. My life would degrade. I would stop taking showers or shaves. I would go for days without eating. I would be obsessed with weird ideas and things such as God sending me messages through the local newscasts on the television. My father always called it my “Wildman syndrome.” I would get completely nuts. My then wife wouldn’t know what to do with me and would call my father. It usually ended up with a hospital mental ward visit.

For the first time in my life, I feel a little peace finally. I lived in turmoil for so long I became accustomed to it. It seemed I was always in trouble or the shit was about to hit the fan. Money problems plagued me; relationship ones as well. It seems my whole life was always fucked up and it is nice to have some peace and quiet for a change. I revel in the boringness of my life. I had far too much excitement (of the bad kind) for too many years.

My homeless months taught me some very important things. I was at my lowest and I could go no lower. I lost everything and had nothing left to lose. Nothing really mattered any more other than my base instincts of trying to eat and stay warm. My only companion was that twenty four pack of ice beer and I drowned my sorrows many a day in it. Time slowed down and I lived in the woods by the cycles of nature. When it got dark and cold, I went to sleep in my warm sleeping bag. When the sun rose and my stomach grumbled, I would awake and fix something to eat and build a fire. I was in complete isolation. It was the most simple of existences and maybe it taught me a lesson. I think it taught me that life is too short to live in turmoil all the time. It also reinforced the importance of taking my medications.

You know what I appreciate the most in life these days? Warmth and warm feet. That numbing cold during my homeless days was hardest thing to endure. I enjoy the fact that

Now, I try to take it one day at time. Some days I falter. Other days I excel. I live for those excellent days and hope I have many more left. I still have to hike the Pinhoti trail someday which is my dream and a goal I long for. Maybe some day that dream will come true.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

An Outing with my Great Aunt

I have decided that every Thursday I am going to drive over to Waverly, Alabama and treat my great aunt, Myrtis, to lunch and shopping. She will soon be 88 years old and spends way too much time stuck at home alone as she never learned to drive. She now has a hard time walking and doesn’t get out much.

It was a cool, crisp fall day as I started out this morning. I took the back country roads; the same roads I hiked this summer on my grand adventure. A beautiful country landscape greeted me. It seemed that in just a few weeks time the countryside turned from green to brown. It felt very Christmas-like and wintry.

As I drove into town to my great aunt’s house, I passed by my late grandmother’s house and it stirred my emotions and brought back many a good memory. My father sold it years ago when she was afflicted with Alzheimer’s and had to move to the home I now live in. It is strange for me that someone else now owns it and dwells inside. I longed for those familiar smells of that house and my grandmother’s cooking. So many great memories were formed in that humble abode; the best times of my life.

I arrived at my great aunt’s house and she was overjoyed to see me. She had been cooking a big pot of turnip greens to freeze and the smells of that also brought back memories. She was also busy cutting up pears for pickling and canning. I helped her cut up the rest of them as her hands had grown tired.

We then sat out for Auburn, Alabama for lunch. She said she wanted a hamburger and I drove us to McDonalds. She talked endlessly on the drive and was a right chatterbox. She was so glad to get out of the house. I got us both something to eat and we sat in the car nibbling on the cheeseburgers as we talked. She got me caught up on all the gossip in the little small town in which she dwells.

We then set out on a quest to find me a new coffee percolator that she wanted to buy me. We went all across both Opelika and Auburn but could only find automatic coffee makers. We finally gave up on the quest and I took her to buy her groceries. She ambled around with the cart as I swiftly traversed the store, gathering up her items from a list.

I finally arrived home late this afternoon exhausted. You have to constantly watch her as she is prone to falling. The last thing she or I needed was a broken hip. I am not long for the bed and will soon retire. The next thing on the agenda this week is the extravaganza that is the Auburn/Alabama football game this weekend and seeing my brother after a long absence. I look forward to it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Calm before the Storm

I awoke at just the right time this morning. It is 4:00 AM. The first rumbles of thunder can be heard off in the distance and flashes of lightning fill the sky. It is the calm before the storm. I do so much enjoy these moments in life.

Just now a train is traversing downtown West Point, Georgia. The lonesome wail of its horn echoes across the valley. I spent many a day in my childhood walking those tracks. I was obsessed with trains and still am. I once had quite a collection of photos of engines. I wonder what happened to all of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if mom had them in a box in the closet. I need to ask her.

Soon, the wind will pick up and the rain will start to fall as the squall line approaches. Lightning and thunder will fill the sky. I will go have one last pipe outside before the rain starts. Then, I will come in and enjoy one more cup of coffee as this great opera of nature plays outside my windows. This front will usher in our first freezing weather of the year. Winter finally arrives.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Books and more Books

Sorry for the lack of updates. I have been on a book reading frenzy and haven’t been online much the past few days. I am currently reading David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars. It is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it. Next on my reading list is Phillip Roth’s The Plot against America; a hypothetical tale about what if Charles Lindbergh had become president and had collaborated with the Nazis. The book centers on a Jewish family and their plight during those times. I look forward to reading it.

I did manage to get down to the Pig yesterday as is my usual routine. George was no worse for wear and was busy drinking cheap wine. He had escaped a DUI charge and somehow made it home.

George and I talked for a long time about my ex-wife Rachel. He thinks he knows her and talks as if he and she have conversations on a regular basis. George lives in an alcohol induced fantasyland, but he means well. He just can’t understand how I am content with not getting “laid.”

I had planned on going camping tonight but axed that idea after I glimpsed at the National Weather Service website. They are predicting severe storms tonight accompanied by a strong cold front and freezing temperatures. Not ideal camping weather let me tell you although it would be exciting to weather the storm so to speak. I think I will stay safely at home and curl up with my books in the bed as the thunder claps outside.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Thoughts on Healthcare

I have to have an injection every two weeks to control the symptoms of my schizophrenia. Each injection costs $268 dollars. That comes to be $536 dollars monthly. My insurance does not cover these costs and they are vital to my well being. I am very lucky in that my father owns his own business, a pharmacy. His business subsidizes the costs of my medications. Without his help I just couldn’t afford to take them and my life would be a much less pleasant experience. I would most likely be homeless again.

A very fiscal crisis is looming: namely, medical care. The United States has one of the most inefficient medical care systems in all the industrialized nations. I believe it is the privatization of this is why most of this inefficiency is so prevalent. The interests of insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies have too much clout in promoting their interests to the government and our leaders. It is called big business in action.

The most glaring thing is that most people want “reform” of our medical care system. As in the past, most Americans favor national health insurance. In a 2003 Washington Post-ABC News poll, 80 per cent regarded universal health care as "more important than holding down taxes." These wants have been pretty much ignored by our leaders.

On top of the growing concerns regarding medical care, Congress recently enacted tougher controls on bankruptcy. Almost half of all bankruptcies are caused by medical bills that cannot be paid. This glaring move by congress was a slap in the face to your average medical care consumer and I am sure there was much cheering in the board rooms of major health care companies.

Many progressive first world countries have national health care systems that are efficient and work. Australia’s system is one of best. Why can’t the richest nation in the world provide even the most basic healthcare options without entailing astronomical costs for said services? It is pure greed and profit driven.

I fear that in a few years that healthcare will be out of the reach of the poor. Only the wealthiest individuals will get the best care. Millions of American are without insurance and are one major illness away from bankruptcy. We will eventually arrive at an impasse and something must me done. I just hope that in the next election we will get a leader who understands the wants of the average citizen and not of those of big business. Will that happen? The odds are very remote with the corporate oligarchy that is our current government.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Joy to my Heart

I and my father just had a wonderful heart to heart talk on the phone today. It was just like old times. We used to talk like this during my younger years. I admire the man so deeply and I always felt I could never live up to us expectations. I went for years feeling like a failure as I couldn’t live up to aspirations. You don’t know what it means to me when he says he loves me and is so proud of how good I have been doing lately. We mainly talked about football (as he is obsessed) and discussed the upcoming Georgia vs. Auburn game tonight. He insisted that I attend the vaunted Alabama vs. Auburn game next weekend telling me I have to be there as my brother was coming from San Diego. All this truly warmed my heart and made my day today.

Our relationship has come such a long way. I do so look up to the man. During my homeless days he scorned me and wouldn’t have anything to do with me. It was heartbreaking for me. I was very mentally ill at the time and a raging alcoholic so I can now understand his reservations about dealing with me. I know he loves me as I am his first born and he only wanted the best for me. He often says that I had the highest IQ out of all his children and my younger siblings both went on to become doctors. My father couldn’t understand this. It exasperated him. He felt I had so much potential and was pained when I couldn’t aspire to grander aspirations. That is one of the hardest parts of schizophrenia is that it robs you of so many opportunities. It has taken years for my father to come to terms with my mental illness.

Not much as gone on today other than a walk down the Piggly Wiggly for my usual snack of chocolate milk and cheese on wheat crackers. Saturday is the Pigs busiest day and the groupies were out in full force. There was George, Weasel, Cap w/Tag guy, Slop, and… HIV/AIDS guy!?!? Yes, much to my surprise someone had evidently bailed him out of jail.

HIV/AIDS guy was much more subdued today. He wasn’t even wearing that tattered hospital identification band. He did ask me if he could borrow five bucks to “get something to eat.” He said he had sold his EBT food stamps card and gave them his PIN number. I didn’t fall for that ruse at all. I was not about to finance his crack pipe filling which would have been the case.

George had been drinking really heavily today and it concerned me. He reeked of alcohol. He had driven his car down to the Piggly Wiggly. I asked Slop if he planned on driving home. Slop told me he usually does. If George gets another DUI then he will loose his driver’s license for a year. I pleaded with George so I could drive him home. He told me he wasn’t that drunk and could make his on way home just fine. Slop thought all of this was funny and laughed. I gave Slop a stern look and told him to shut the hell up.

I finally had to leave as the sun had grown low on the horizon and air was becoming chilly and I only had on a light jacket. I bid the gang farewell and started the walk home. The thoughts of George getting arrested weighed heavily on my mind, but there was nothing I could do. He was adamant that he was fine to drive and I had no way of getting his car keys. He could have easily walked home. I guess I am a terrible friend for letting that happen. I just hope that tomorrow if I go down to the Pig I will find a George with nothing more than a hangover and no overnight jail terms.

There and Back Again

Warning: A few expletives are ahead so if you are bothered by them then please skip this posting!

This afternoon, I walked down to the Piggly Wiggly once again to see what was going on and to purchase my usual snack of chocolate milk and cheese on wheat crackers. The whole gang was in full force today. Slop, George, Cap w/Tag guy, Weasel and… HIV/AIDS Guy?!?! Yes, much to my surprise he was down there as well and must have gotten someone to bail him out of jail. I sighed as he made a beeline straight towards me when he saw me.

“Hey man, can I bum a few dollars to get something to eat?” He asked loudly as he walked towards me aggressively.

“Fuck off dude!!!” I said to match his aggression.

“Come on man! Just five bucks!” He pleaded. “I will pay you back tomorrow.”

I was not about to finance his pipe filling and knew I would never get paid back. I just started to walk faster towards George and Slop as HIV/AIDS Guy let loose a slew of racial slurs aimed at me calling me such words as “fucking honky” and “stingy white cracker.” I had really pissed him off by ignoring him and just walking on.

“Dat nigga don’t know when to quit!” George said with a big grin on his face as I approached his bench.

George held out his hand for me to shake it.

“He drives me fucking crazy,” I replied. “I wish they would have kept him in jail.”

George and Slop both laughed.

“Come over here, my brotha,” George said as he got up from his bench and motioned for me to follow him.

George pulled me to the side and asked me a hundred questions about my ex-wife, Rachel. He acts like he knows her and speaks to her occasionally. He wants us to get back together so I can start getting “laid” again. I told him the last thing I would want to do is to get back with her. I couldn’t imagine a hell any worse than that. George was very insistent and said he was going to call Rachel when he got home. I told him to take his best shot. George sometimes lives in what I call a beer induced fantasyland. He means well though.

Weasel was all cleaned up today and had shaved and had a shower. George said his mother had let him move back in on the condition that he gets a job within a few weeks. Weasel still looked pretty sullen though; sitting on the bench between the dollar store and the pig. Everybody was avoiding him. He was drinking a 40 oz bottle of malt liquor wrapped in a brown paper bag. I would be pretty sullen as well if had to live with his mother from what I have heard about her. I don’t know what is worse for Weasel, homelessness or the mother from hell.

Lunch time had come and I looked at my watch. It was almost one o’ clock. Ella would have finished cooking by then. I started the walk home to my parent’s house. I opened their door with my key. Ella had fixed a wonderful lunch of meat loaf, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and cornbread. I ate until I was full and locked the door behind me as I left.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Still of the Night

I had just awoken from a deep sleep. A cold wind greeted me as I stepped outside to smoke my pipe. Far off, a neighbor’s dog barked at unforeseen threats in the distance. A beautiful half-moon was setting on the horizon accompanied by wispy clouds that glowed with its bright light. A myriad of stars adorned the night sky looking like little twinkling jewels hung on the tapestry of the deep dark. I lit my pipe and drew in that rich, aromatic smoke. I reveled in the stillness of the night. The cold night air enveloped me. The time was 3:00 AM.

Yesterday, I was overcome with exhaustion. I ended up laying in the bed all day in a delirious state; sleeping off and on as the radio on my bedside table played. I would awake every few hours to a different program playing. I would roll over and re-wrap myself in those soft and warm covers. I do not know why I was so tired yesterday as I had slept fitfully the night before. Now, the time is well after midnight and I am up with the creatures of the night; bright eyed and bushy tailed as they say.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Daring Duo Returns

A cold front blew in overnight making for a cool and blustery day. A marked change from the Indian summer we have been experiencing. I put on a light jacket and walked down to the Pig to see what the gang was up to. The groupies were out in full force today. There was Big S, George, Cap w/Tag Guy, Ferret, and… HIV/AIDS Guy?!?! Yes, to my surprise he was out there as well. Apparently, someone had bailed him out of jail.

I just don’t understand why Big S and HIV/AIDS Guy play that dangerous game of shop lifting. These guys all get food stamps. Maybe it is the thrill? At least Slop is smart enough to not do the actual stealing. He just performs the service of a lookout.

Today, HIV/AIDS Guy had stolen a box of Little Debbie Dunkin’ Stix and he was sharing them with Big S. They were greedily eating the contents of that box on the bench between the dollar store and the Pig. George had filled me in on what was going on.

“That has to be the dumbest son of a bitch I have ever seen,” I told George speaking of HIV/AIDS Guy.

George laughed and replied, “Dat nigga don’t know when to quit.”

“He just got out of jail and he is already breaking the law again,” I said as I shook my head.

Ferret was looking much better today. He was cleaned up and had shaven. He still seemed to be in a sullen mood though. George informed that his mother had let him move back in on the condition that he gets a job within two weeks. I don’t know what is worse for Ferret, homelessness or living with that hellacious beast of a mother.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

A Hard Day’s Shopping

I had my appointment with my psychiatrist today. Everything was pretty routine other than she wanted to start me on an anti-depressant called lexapro. I told her that things have been fine lately and she still wanted to prescribe me an additional medication. It didn’t make any sense. She gave me a months worth of samples on the condition that I call her in ten days to let her know how I am doing. I don’t have to see her again in person for three months.

I have taken anti-depressants before and they tend to make me manic. I can get on cloud nine. She knew that and still prescribed it. Oh well, another day in the life of a mental health guinea pig. Hopefully, this new medication will be a trip and I can get some kicks out of it. If you see an increased amount of writing on this blog then you know I am feeling my oats. This will be an interesting experiment. I take the first pill in the morning.

Mom tagged along today. She doesn’t necessarily enjoy waiting around as I visit my doctor, but she was eager to get a chance to eat at the Red Lobster. She came over to pick me up looking totally disheveled. She looked as if she had just crawled out of bed and put on some clothes. Her hair was wilder than normal and she didn’t have on any makeup.

“Mom, we can’t go with you looking like that,” I said concerned.

I drove her back to my parent’s house and helped her fix her hair and urged her to put on some makeup. She half-heartedly attempted to do so. I then drove us down to Opelika for my appointment.

After the appointment, we went to the Red Lobster. I ordered Shrimp and a New York strip steak. Mom got a seafood platter and a pina colada. I do so love their salads; so crisp and cold and with just the right amount of blue cheese dressing.

After our meal, mom’s hands were shaking so badly she couldn’t write the check. She asked me to fill it out for her. She also got in a tizzy about the right amount to tip and even asked the waitress what she wanted. This completely took the waitress by surprise and she didn’t know what to say. I reached into my wallet and pulled out a five dollar bill giving it to her and diffusing that awkward situation.

Mom then decided she needed some new clothes and makeup and asked if I would mind taking her to Dillards in the mall. I told her I wouldn’t mind at all.

During my youth, my mother was so fashionable and an avid shopper. She had flair and style. Today, she struggled with just picking out any clothes at all. I ended up having to do this for her and I got what I thought were several nice outfits and she tried them on. At one point, she came walking out of the dressing room into the store with her shirt unbuttoned exposing her bra, chest, and belly. I rushed over quickly grabbing her shirt to hold it together and took her back into the dressing room.

“Mom, you just can’t walk out into a store with your shirt open like that,” I said startled.

“Oh, I didn’t realize it was unbuttoned,” She replied.

We finally got her several nice outfits that fit her well and some new makeup as well. Once again, I had to fill out the check to pay for them. We then had a quiet ride home. What a strange day this has been!

Indian Summer

It was another fabulously gorgeous day today with temperatures in the mid-eighties. A bright blue sky was filled with puffy cumulus clouds. We are definitely having our Indian summer. At one point, I laid a quilt out in the backyard and lay on my side reading a book for the longest time soaking in the bright sunlight. My neighbor’s dog, Rosie, accompanied me and vied for my attentions. She got many a belly rub and a back scratch. She is such a pleasant and sweet dog. I wish she was mine.

Some Hispanic fellows stopped by around lunch time and asked if they could clean up my yard for money. They spoke very broken English and I could hardly communicate with them. My two years of Spanish during high school has been long forgotten. The leaves have started to fall in earnest and I have been feeling lazy and have neglected the task of raking them up. I paid them twenty dollars to clean up my yard. The only drawback to this plan was the raucous roar of their leaf blower and it chased me away from my quiet session reading on my quilt outside. It chased Rosie off as well.

After a lunch of a tuna sandwich and potato chips, I walked down to the shopping center to see what was going on. I sat on the bench next to Slop and started to read the latest Model Railroader magazine. Slop started to make fun of me for wanting to play with “toy trains” when he saw what I was reading. This was coming from an older man who spends his entire time sitting in front of a grocery store begging people for spare change. I dismissed his petty banter and he soon shut up.

George was nowhere to be seen today and I missed him. Cap w/ Tag Guy was selling his usual wares. He had this huge mug of what I think was a soft drink and was jamming out to his Sony walkman. You could hear the muted beat of the music as you walked by coming from his headphones. His head was nodding to the beat and the tag on his cap was flailing about wildly.

As the afternoon lingered on and the sun lowered on the horizon, I decided I needed to walk back home after reading my magazine. I feared that they would have called from work asking me to come in for deliveries. Alas, I made it home and the only message on my answering machine was one from my mother telling me that I had an appointment with my psychiatrist tomorrow and that we would go out to eat at the Red Lobster afterwards; all in all, a pleasant day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Journals as Confessional Mediums

Everyday, I say I am going to quit blogging. Everyday, I keep on writing.

I find it odd that I share things on this journal with people I will never meet. I share things that I would never share with people in my actual life. I see this on many other journals as well. I could have never written about certain things like my drinking or smoking or the Piggly Wiggly groupies for that matter and everyone who stopped by would get to read a completely different version of my life. I would probably have more readers as well. To share these moments in my life almost feels as if I am releasing it or letting it go. It can be addictive. It also helps if you don’t have your real name, photo, or email address plastered across your blog. I certainly wouldn’t want more meddlesome cousins stopping by to read and reporting everything I was doing back to my significant others.

I worked all morning on an essay about universal health care; a subject that hits close to home as my medical costs are outrageous. I actually did quite a bit of research and got other author’s ideas and quotes. I tried to stay away from the mainstream media when getting information this morning. I don’t think I will post it though. I don’t want to turn this blog into another rant blog like so many others I read. I just don’t think you all would want to read my grander ideas on such subjects. There are so many authors who are more knowledgeable, eloquent, and better spoken. It was fun writing it though and I learned a great deal from my research.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Disparaging Times

I am such an idiot; a complete dolt. I consider myself pretty street smart, but didn’t have a clue today. I was blinded by amorous aspirations.

I had driven down to the Piggly Wiggly again out of boredom. George introduced me to this really cute woman whom he had given a ride. My heart was smitten. My sexual desires overcame my better judgment. She was beautiful. I would later find out she was a crack-head and a thief.

George introduced me to her and asked if I would go inside the Pig and buy us a case of beer. The dutiful friend I am followed suit and bought one. I walked back out to the car and George suggested we go over to Pookie’s house after drinking a few beers. At first I declined, but George’s charm and that delectable little lady won me over. I followed George in my car so I could drive home if I wanted to or felt uncomfortable with the situation.

At Pookie’s house, the crack pipe was passed around. I saw George smoke from the pipe and this weird expression of glee overcame his face. He passed the pipe to me. I held that warm piece of glass in my hands and hesitated.

“Go on, man,” George said. “Smoke it.”

I succumbed to peer pressure. I took a long draught from the pipe and euphoria overcame me. It felt as if I was experiencing the most intense orgasm I had ever had. I then passed the pipe to that cute little lady that had caught my eye. I found out her name was Sandra. I sat there with a goofy grin on my face as my mind was swimming in amorous thoughts heightened by the effects of that drug.

George then asked me if I had twenty bucks. I handed him a twenty dollar bill and he and Pookie disappeared for what seemed like ages. My paranoia that George had fucked me over went out of control. Soon, despite my fears, George and Pookie returned and we all partake from the pipe again.

Sandra then asked me to take her to get something to eat. My love struck self agreed and we drove down to Hardees to get a burger. She asked me to go inside and get a take out. While I was inside, she went through my glove box and stole a book of checks that I had put in there for emergencies. When I returned, she ate the burger and requested that I take her back to Pookie’s house. I complied and after taking her home she made it clear that she didn’t want to have anything else to do with me. By this time, George was gone and I left as well.

Later, I was sitting here browsing the internet. I got a call from the bank explaining that someone was trying to cash one of my checks and it wasn’t my signature. They asked me what I wanted to do. I told them to call the police and left my house headed for the bank. The police arrived and arrested Sandra and two fellows who were accompanying her. I then had to go down to the police station and make a statement.

As I was sitting in the police station waiting to make my statement, a police officer brought Sandra in. As she passed by me, she pleaded with me to not press charges. I told her it was out of my hands and the officer drug her off to her cell.

I am such a monumental dumb-ass! I don’t think I will ever trust George again or my own judgment for that matter! I just want to crawl into bed and forget this horrible day.

Balmy Days

We have record setting warm weather here. It is strange. It is November, fall colors are starting to show, and I have every window open in my apartment and it is warm. We are supposed to have a high of 83 degrees today. I am sitting here with just shorts and a t-shirt on.

Monday is my “payday” and what a grand day it is. Every Monday, I make a check out for $85 dollars and walk down to the bank to cash it. This money has to last me until the start of next week to stay on my budget. It is a nice feeling to have a few dollars in your pocket. I usually splurge and eat out on payday.

After cashing my check, I walked over to the little Korean restaurant in the same shopping center as the Piggly Wiggly. I got a plate of chicken and stir fried rice and a large iced tea. I then walked over to a bench near the Pig to sit down and eat. They give you such enormous portions and I couldn’t finish it all. Weasel was sitting down on the bench between the Pig and the dollar store. I walked down and asked him if he wanted what was left as I couldn’t eat it all. He told me to fuck off and leave him alone. I didn’t take it personally as the guy is off his rocker.

I seem to have an uncanny knack these days for meeting up with George. Soon, he came driving up in his Dodge as I was walked down the sidewalk headed for home. He waved for me to come over. I sat down in his car. George offered me a beer. I am still not feeling rather well and declined. I did smoke the Swisher Sweet cigar George handed me.

I told George what Ferret had said to me earlier when I offered him something to eat. George told me that his mother has thrown him out and he is sleeping in the fenced off and abandoned parking lot next to the upper tier of the shopping center. I asked George if he had a sleeping bag and George said no. I think I will bring Ferret one of my old bags and see if he will take it. He might just tell me to fuck off again.

Ferret could easily get into BIT (brief intensive treatment) down in Opelika if he would just try. That would give him a few weeks of food and shelter and they could start trying out some medications. I have told him about it before. He knows the name of my psychiatrist who is the director of it. At least he has food stamps and plenty to eat. It is also a good thing that there is no cold weather in sight in the long term forecast.

I think Ferret is going through that period of shock and depression you experience when you first become homeless. I can remember crying for days that first week I became homeless and didn’t handle it with the dignity that Ferret seems to be.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

A Brilliant Day!

What a brilliant fall day! The temperature is hovering around eighty degrees and I have all my windows open. It feels like spring redux and I am really enjoying it. I have been in a melancholy mood for a few days and this weather was needed to lift my spirits. It certainly has done the trick.

I walked down to the shopping center earlier. George was busy drinking beer and talking shit. I had my fair share of beer as well. George seemed to have boundless pockets today and was buying all the beer we could drink. We both sat in his car imbibing while smoking cheap cigars. George seems to think I do not get laid enough (I haven’t been “laid” in over a year I confessed) and wanted to set me up with this certain black lady he knows. He thinks that black women are better sexually then white women.

“I have told you before that there ain’t no pussy like black pussy!” George said excitedly.

I reminded him I have been to bed with a black woman once and she wasn’t all that great.

“How ‘bout I pick you up tonight and we go over to Pookie’s house?” George asked. “We can be playin’ some cards, drinkin’ some beers, and I can introduce you to her sexy ass.”

From what I have heard about Pookie from the gang is that she can be a crack fiend and will sleep with anyone with a few dollars in their pocket. Many times those dollars will be taken without permission; pilfered, if you wish. That was not my idea of a “hot date” or “sexy ass” for that matter.

“No thanks, man,” I replied. “I think I will stay home tonight and catch a few football games.”

George pleaded with me to get out and about. I had to decline many times. I smoked one last cigar and thanked George for his generosity today with beer and smokes and headed on home.

Scraps from the Ruling Elite

I guess my turning point was when I fell out of society for six months. I started to see the complex system we are conditioned to obey from the outside in. Most people are so busy scrambling to keep up with their jobs and homes that they never see the bigger picture of why we must do all this and live this way. Most people are so busy that they don’t have time to think for themselves. I think this was intelligently designed into the system by the ruling class. If people spend all their time working until exhaustion and maintaining a consumer lifestyle then they will not question or revolt. They will not have the energy to do so. They will just accept what has been their given lot in life and blindly follow those in higher authority that are really not interested in their well being. The only time the ruling class is truly interested in the general population’s well being is when it suits their interests and/or is profitable (A good example of this was the zeal for a profitable war to “free” a foreign land from tyranny and terrorism juxtaposed against the lackluster governmental response after Hurricane Katrina). Altruism truly seems to be dead in our corporate dominated world.

We are conditioned from a very early age to accept the “system”, obey all the laws (many are silly), and to think alike. Unconventional ideas and non-conformity are frowned upon deeply by authority. It threatens them and their way of life. The status quo must be maintained even if it means some people are mistreated or have their rights taken away.

An interesting example of this non-conformity was “The Homeless Guy” experiment. I disagreed with his ideology and cyber-begging, but gained some good ideas from what Kevin was doing. The guy always got a pretty big backlash from some of his readers and it was telling. He would get comments like, “Get a job!” or “Does anyone else see the humor in an overweight homeless guy complaining about the quality of free meals?”

For some reason, Kevin couldn’t or wouldn’t work in a traditional sense. He learned how to survive without living a conventional life and I think this made many people feel threatened and possibly jealous if you can be jealous of an indigent man. His freedom from the “system” also allowed him to speak his mind as he had nothing to lose by being candid. Most of us really don’t have true freedom of speech like Kevin did in that we can lose our jobs and homes if we said what we truly thought or believed on matters. We must think alike and behave a certain way if we are to live off of the scraps the ruling elite throws our way.

I would argue that slavery has been reinvented for our modern age. Not the blatant slavery as of that of the negroes during the birth and early part of our nation, but a more insidious and almost invisible slavery that we all willingly accept and conform to. We are blinded by conditioning from an early age to not see any alternatives. Some of us manage to escape, but we live destitute and solitary lives. We are fugitives in a modern day underground railroad always living under the radar of society.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Not Long for this World

People come and go. New generations are born everyday. There will always be others who walk in my footsteps. My time on this interesting planet will be short. I have lived 33 long years and many of them were hard. Many experiences I want to forget, but they haunt my memories. I am now entering my waning years.

I am at a time of my life when things are finally pleasant and worth living. All is right in my world. I haven’t been happier in such a long time. A settled calm overcomes me and I am resigned to my fate. I am free from all those shackles that haunted me for decades. I think it is a fitting end for a man who lived a tortured life for so long.

I am like a candle burning at both ends. I smoke heavily and have been drinking heavily as well. That is okay. I want to live these last few waning years in a manner of my choosing. I want to indulge in my bliss. I want to enjoy living to its fullest and drink deep of the nectar of life. I want to write and share my experiences. I want to walk out on cold mornings and breathe deep the cold air. I want to pitch my tent in the woods and revel in the solitude and peace that only camping affords me.

Maybe the preciousness of human life escapes me. We all have to die. For some it is sooner than later. We pass and our only continuation is through the genes of our offspring. That is something I will never experience. I will never know what it is like to be a father as my genes are not worthy of such an endeavor. I am resigned to not burden my offspring with this affliction called schizophrenia. My mother’s family is rife with mental illness and broken families. I do not want to continue that trend. I like to think I have chosen the noble way in that I have abstained from having children even though I have had many chances. I was always smart enough to know not to. I knew my limits. I knew I wouldn’t make a good father with all the burdens I carried.

My candle is still burning at both ends. I don’t think I will live for longer than three or more years. I don’t believe in an afterlife or all that religious bullshit. I will just cease to exist. My flame will extinguish and dark will prevail. I will have no legacy. I will be known as the son who was ill and with whom something was not quite right. That is all well and good. Generations will pass and I will be forgotten. I will just be a footnote in the great tome that is history. I will finally rest at peace and all my ills will be long gone.

Droopy Hits the Scene

Droopy will be a new character in the George and the gang tales as he has been a frequent visitor as of late. I call him Droopy in that he reminds me of that cartoon dog from my childhood. His face looks like it was wax and started melting and sliding off his face. He has some pretty prominent jowls. I debated on calling him the “Black Paul Bunyan” as he always wears a knit wool cap, red colored flannel shirts, and old style pants with suspenders. The only thing missing to complete that image would have been an axe thrown over his shoulder instead of his usual backpack. I guess Droopy shall suffice.

I and Droopy used to work together years ago in the local Martex towel warehouse so we are familiar with each other. I drove a forklift and Droopy’s job was to walk around all night with a large pole and make sure the conveyor belts were running smoothly and that no cases of towels backed up in jams. Everyone envied him of his job as we were all busting our asses on production and he just got to leisurely walk around all night with a pole in his hand. Droopy eventually got laid off and lives on his social security checks each month. He must be in his mid-sixties now.

This morning Droopy was sitting on a bench with a forty ounce bottle of malt liquor in a brown paper bag. It was a chilly morning and seeing that cold beer in his hand made me want to shiver. Droopy was talking to Slop. Slop called me over.

“Did you be hearin’ what happened to HIV/AIDS Guy?” He asked.

“Yeah, George told me about it the other day,” I replied. “That dumb ass finally got caught. I knew it was going to happen.”

“Dis here be Droopy (Slop actually said his real name),” Slop said.

We both shook hands.

“We know each other,” I said. “We used to work together.”

I and Droopy talked for a long time catching up on old times about our experiences working in that towel warehouse. Droopy filled me in on what some of the fellows we used to work with have been up to these days. I then lit up a cigarette.

“You couldn’t spare a cigarette, could you?” Droopy asked.

Slop interrupted.

“Don’t be askin’ dat stingy mutherfucka for no cigarettes,” Slop said. “He won’t give you one.”

I would have let him bum a cigarette since he was an old coworker, but couldn’t do it in the presence of Slop. It would have set a precedent and Slop would start pestering me again like he used to do. For some reason, these fellows all smoke, but never seem to have cigarettes.

“What ever happened to that pretty girl you used to date?” Droopy asked. “You know, the one with the black hair and pretty green eyes.”

“You mean Leslie?” I asked. “God, she is ancient history.”

It had been probably ten years since I had even thought about that woman.

“I bet she sure was one good piece of ass to come home to,” Droopy said with a big grin.

“Man, she was actually the lamest person in bed I have ever had,” I replied. “She just laid there and did nothing.”

We all laughed.

“That sho be a shame,” Droopy replied. “She sure was a looker.”

“Well, fellas, I am headed down to the diner to get some breakfast,” I said. “Good to see you Droopy.”

We both shook hands again. Slop made some comment about me bringing him back something to eat. I just ignored him. I then started the short walk down to Merl’s diner for a late breakfast.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

My Emancipation Proclamation

I often think of going back to work full time so I could be fully self supporting. I then think over the many jobs I have had and I change my mind pretty quickly. Working nine to five was a life of drudgery. Working full time was also more pressure than I could handle with my mental illness. I am very comfortable living on less and working less. My part time job suits me fine.

I see many people around me working their lives away in jobs they hate or that are mundane and I feel so sorry for them. We have been conditioned to think that this is the only way to “make a living.” I see a life of servitude and slavery. People get really upset if you mention that fact in that it threatens their way of life and what they have been taught from a very early age to believe.

I often ask who decided that the forty hour work week was the standard. It is simple. It is advantageous to the employers and not the employee. You would think with the amount of technology we possess that the work week would have diminished over the decades (this was predicted by many notable scholars). On the contrary, people are having to worker longer and harder and for less pay, much less pay.

I think things really took a turn for the worse when corporations were granted the same rights as an individual. I think there was a landmark case involving the railroads in the late eighteen hundreds that established this. Most corporations have become so powerful that they greatly influence our lives and our government. Our government is rife with corporatism. Many of these companies gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to BOTH candidates, republican and democrat alike, during the last election. It is akin to tossing a coin to decide who will be king as either candidate will be sympathetic to the corporate cause. Both men in the last election had strong ties to big business. Many people still live under the delusion that we are a democracy. I would argue that we are a corporate oligarchy.

Also what mystifies me is all the crass commercialism I see around me. Everywhere I turn I see some company trying to vie for my attention and to get me to purchase something. None of this stuff being advertised is needed. That is why I quit watching television in a traditional way. I turned off and tuned out. I don’t want to be bombarded what all that crap on a daily basis. If there is something I want to watch then I download it off of the internet sans commercials.

I sometimes have fears for what the future holds. My common sense keeps telling me that we can’t go on consuming like we do as a nation. I just don’t think it is sustainable. I see so much debt and rabid, needless consumerism. Modern American is beginning to remind me of that colossus called Rome that fell as well. It seems nothing is sacred anymore and anything and everything can be bought and sold like commodities on a market. Everything revolves around the accumulation of those little green pieces of paper that have a perceived economic value i.e. the almighty dollar.

I was forced to live a minimalist lifestyle starting with my homeless days. My homeless days were my emancipation proclamation from a life of slavery. Before hand, I lived the typical “middle class” lifestyle. I and my ex-wife had a new car and nice home. We were also greatly in debt and were constantly bombarded with bills and worries. I would never want to go back to that lifestyle again. I think a large part of my mental illness was so exacerbated by the kind of lifestyle I was living. I was a slave to my possessions and the style of life I had to maintain. I lost everything, but gained something even more valuable: Freedom.

What was forced on me in beginning has become a lifestyle that I now enjoy and embrace. I would gladly chose voluntary simplicity over my former “life” now if given the choice. I have time to relax and enjoy life. I have time to read and write. I can sleep when the need arises. I can go to the bathroom without getting permission from a boss beforehand. If I am not feeling well then I don’t have to work. I can stay home and recuperate.

By most standards I would be considered poor. I live well below the poverty line, but you know what? I don’t feel poor at all. I feel blessed and fortunate. I feel truly freed from a life of servitude and drudgery. That freedom is something I would never trade. Not even for a million dollars. If push came to shove and I was forced to live like I did before my homeless days, I would be back out in that tent in Waverly camping. I would give up everything to have my freedom.

Hot Buttered Biscuits

Even though the time has changed, I am still on my normal schedule. I get up well before dawn and start my day. The first thing I do is start a pot of coffee and take a shower.

For breakfast, I cooked a pan of hot buttered biscuits and ate them with strawberry preserves and some bacon on the side. I made the dough the night before and put it in a wooden bowl covered with a dish cloth. All I had to do this morning was to roll the dough out and cut the biscuits and put them on a slightly greased pan. I learned this tip from staying the many weekends last fall with my great aunt.

Today, I have to go get a haircut and dread this with every fiber of my being. It is just one of my phobias. My stomach will be in a knot until this ordeal is overcome. I don’t really need one as my hair is not too long so I don’t know why I am putting myself through this. I guess I just want to get it over with.

I did manage to walk down to the Pig yesterday for my usual snack. I saw George and he was working on one of his vehicles out in the parking lot. George has a string of old, beat up cars. His preferred ride is his 1981 Dodge Diplomat as that is the most reliable car out of the bunch. Yesterday, for some reason he was driving his mid-seventies Ford Thunderbird; a gas guzzling relic from times long past when gas was less than a dollar a gallon. I call the Thunderbird George’s “battle cruiser” as it a huge old hulk of a car.

George is the grapevine for everything that occurs down in the shopping center where the Pig resides. Over a few beers George told me that someone had complained about HIV/AIDS Guy’s overly aggressive panhandling. The police had arrived and searched him. They found his crack pipe and busted him for drug paraphernalia so he will be in jail for quite awhile unless he can come up with bail.

I know this may sound mean, but having the dude in jail will make for a much more pleasant experience in visiting the Pig. HIV/AIDS Guy was over the top he was so aggressive with his methods and damned aggravating for sure. The sad thing is that this stint in jail will do nothing to deter him from that wretched pipe. This “war on drugs” is a joke and a monumental waste of tax payer’s money.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The Battle Cruiser Rides Again

George drives a string of old, beat up cars. His favored taxi service vehicle is his 1981 dodge diplomat as that seems to be the most reliable of the bunch. For some reason, today he was in his mid-seventies Ford Thunderbird. I call the Thunderbird the battle cruiser as it is a huge old gas guzzling hulk of a car; a relic from times when gas was less than a dollar a gallon.

George had the hood up and was leaning over the engine looking into the engine bay. He seemed to be tinkering with something. I walked over to see what was up. George shook my hand as I approached after wiping them on his pants.

“Whazzup, my brotha!” George exclaimed.

“Need any help?” I asked.

“Nah, it just be the damn starter motor,” He replied. “I think I be going to have to buy a new solenoid for it.”

George rapped on the starter motor with a hammer a few times and walked around to start the car. The battle cruiser cranked and roared to life belching black smoke from the exhaust pipe. He then turned the car off and got back out.

“Buy dis brotha a beer,” George said as he patted me on the shoulder.

I walked into the grocery store and purchased two Milwaukee’s Best Ice; George’s favorite form of ingesting alcohol. I walked back out and handed him one. We both got into the car to drink our beers.

“What’s been going on?” I asked.

“You be missing all the excitement today,” George said with a grin.

George somehow always knows everything that goes on down at the Pig.

“What happened?” I asked.

“They (the police) busted that damn beggar nigga,” George replied.

I knew exactly who George was speaking of. It seems HIV/AIDS Guys aberrant behavior had finally caught up with him. Someone must have complained about his overly aggressive panhandling yesterday.

“What did they bust him for?” I asked.

“Dey searched him and found his pipe,” George said, “Got him for possession of drug paraphernalia.”

I know this must sound mean, but his being in jail will make for a much more pleasant experience visiting the Pig for the next few days. HIV/AIDS Guy is so aggressive that he is aggravating as hell. The sad truth though is that this short stint in jail will do nothing to deter HIV/AIDS Guy from that pipe. This so called “War on Drugs” is so ridiculous and a monumental waste of tax payers money. If you don’t believe me then take a closer look at the spectacle that was prohibition in the early part of last century.

Stuck where the Sun Don’t Shine

Last night, blogger somehow deleted half of my template. Blogger was not working properly last night so I couldn’t fix it. Luckily, I had a backup copy of my template stored in a word file. I am glad I have made a habit of doing that since I fiddle with my template so much.

This morning was my injection of Risperdal. I drove down to the drugstore and picked up my injection. I then drove on down to the doctor’s office. I sat in the reception room watching an aquarium full of African cichlids squabble over territory. Around and around they chased each other and one fish was a particularly nasty bully. As I sat and watched, I held my injection in my hand to warm it up. To not to do so means one painful experience.

Soon, my nurse called me back. Several other new nurses had gathered in the room to watch how the shot was prepared and injected. I grew rather nervous that my nurse might be leaving and nervous about all the watchful eyes that would get to revel in the stark white glory of my exposed bum.

“You are not leaving are you?” I quietly asked Andrea, my nurse.

“No sweetie,” She said. “I just want them to know how to do it unless I can’t be here.”

I let loose a sigh of relief as Andrea has a deft touch and somehow it is rarely painful with her skilled hands. I didn’t want to become a guinea pig for a new nurse.

The injection was almost painless except she must have hit a vein and I bled and bled. There was a small puddle of blood on the floor. Andrea scrambled to get some gauze and a band aid. Finally, the bleeding stopped and I think this really scared all of the new nurses. Sometimes, this just happens and is no big deal to me even though it embarrasses Andrea.

“Well, hun, sorry about that,” Andrea said. “I hate it when that happens.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” I replied.

“We will see you in two weeks then,” She said.

“You don’t know how much of a difference this makes in the quality of my life,” I told her.

She gave me the warmest smile and told me, “Thank you, hun. You are a sweetheart.”

Hopefully, today, I will get back down to the shopping center and purchase my usual chocolate milk and cheese on wheat crackers. I have been trying to get down there everyday to get up something to write as my home life has been utterly boring and inconsequential these days. I rarely get feedback on the Gang so if any of you are tired of these posts or don’t find them interesting then I will stop writing them. They may not be as interesting to others as they are for me to witness and write. These experiences certainly break up the monotony that can many times be my day.