Saturday, March 31, 2007

Discussions of my Illness over a Hearty Meal

I was sitting over at my parent’s house eating supper last night. Helen had cooked a wonderful meal of sour cream and mushroom chicken, green beans, baked sweet potato patties, a green salad, and corn bread. I asked Helen for the recipe for her sour cream and mushroom chicken. She mixed equal parts cream of mushroom soup and sour cream and then melted in a stick of butter. She then seasoned it with salt and pepper and poured this over large chicken breasts and baked it in the oven until the chicken was fork tender and done. It was some of the most fattening and delicious baked chicken I have ever eaten.

“You are still acting weird from yesterday,” My father told me over our meal as we sat at his kitchen table.

My mother was strangely quiet last night and not saying much.

“I am just tired and haven’t been able to sleep,” I replied. “My sinuses have also been giving me hell with all this pollen we have been having.”

It has been a bumper year as far as pine and oak pollen is concerned.

“I thought I was going to have to check you in the hospital yesterday,” My father then said.

“Please, God, don’t put me back in that hospital,” I told him. “You just give me something to sleep, put me in the bed, and I will be better in the morning after taking my meds.”

“You don’t realize how strange you act, do you?” My father asked.

“No, not really,” I replied taking another bite of my chicken.

“You won’t make eye contact, will not sit still, and smoke obsessively when you get like that,” He said.

“Well, I was feeling pretty rough yesterday and it is a scary feeling,” I replied. “The most important organ in my body was malfunctioning.”

My father gave me some pyroxate for my sinuses and then some Librium to help me sleep. I walked home, drank a glass of milk, took two Librium, and went sound to sleep and slept for five hours. I awoke well after midnight feeling rested. I have got to get my sleeping habits back on a more normal schedule though.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Hell hath no Fury like a Woman with PMS

“Well, look what the cat drug in,” Rosa says scowling as George comes driving up in his battlewagon.

I affectionately call George’s ’79 Thunderbird the battlewagon or battle cruiser.

I then smiled at George sitting behind the wheel of that big old boat of a car. Bluish smoke was belching from the exhaust pipe and George had the biggest, goofiest grin on his face as he pulled into the fire lane in front of the shopping center as a cheap cigar dangled from between his lips.

“Come here,” George mouthed and waved as I walked up to that rusty old ’79 Thunderbird.

“How did you get this piece of shit running?” I say as I sit down in the passenger’s seat.

“Where there is a will, there is a way my pale little buddy,” George says, proud of putting that piece of junk back on the road. “Let’s go for a ride.”

I could smell alcohol on George’s breath.

“I think I will sit this one out,” I say. “I am on my ninth life as far as drinking and driving is concerned.”

“Well, I am off to make the big bucks,” George replies as I get out of the car after only sitting a moment and he drives off to look for braver patrons than I for his fly-by-night taxi service.

It was good to see George back on the road again, despite the imminent threat of a drinking and driving charge. I wondered what he had to do to get that car running. I walked back over and sat down next to Rosa once again.

“He’s gonna get a DUI,” Rosa says, glibly.

“I know,” I reply. “But what can you do?”

“I ought to go call the police right now about the drunk driving son of a bitch,” Rosa says.

Rosa dislikes George. They are like oil and water.

“Be nice,” I say. “It will happen sooner or later without your help.”

“Did you go to A.A. last night?” Rosa then asks, changing the subject.

“No, I was being lazy last night,” I reply. “I didn’t feel like getting out of the house.”

“You are not the lazy type,” Rosa says. “You walk everywhere which I think is stupid since you have a damn nice car and money for gas.”

“Well, you are just a bundle of joy and inspiration today,” I say, sarcastically. “Who pissed in your cheerios this morning?”

“PMS,” Rosa says with a smirk.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned or experiencing PMS, I think as I sit there, wary of what Rosa would say next.

I used to think women used PMS as an excuse just to be a bitch, but changed my mind after being married for two years. My ex-wife had a definite Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde transformation that time every month. Rachel would cry at the smallest setback or little thing, and would grow so emotional. You could often find me in the woods camping when PMS time would roll around. Mother Nature was a far kinder beast to bear than my ex-wife when she was ovulating. It seems Rosa is a woman after all despite that burly, rough, and masculine exterior.

Of Lonely Clerks and Walks after Midnight

2am found me once again walking the streets downtown. A cold front blew in upon a brisk and chilly wind. I shivered, not used to the cold, and wrapped myself in my fleece pullover as I pulled my backpack tightly upon my shoulder. I stopped after walking a mile at the all-night convenience store to buy a candy bar with the last bit of change in my pocket.

“You sure keep odd hours,” The clerk tells me with an air of familiarity at my regular presence these days when I walked inside the door.

“I have terrible insomnia,” I reply, “And nothing is on TV at two in the morning except infomercials. I walk to pass the time until sunrise.”

“You don’t get scared and shit of getting robbed in the middle of the night?” He asks.

“No,” I reply loudly as I stand in front of the candy counter surveying the offerings.

“I see some weird shit go down in this store after midnight,” He says. “Drunks come out of the woodwork after midnight and last night I caught a guy drinking beer without paying in the bathroom.”

“Oh,” I say as I chuckle, trying to feign interest.

The shopkeeper was clearly lonely and just wanted someone to talk to.

“He would drink a six pack and then stuff the empty cans up above the ceiling tiles and act like nothing happened. I finally caught that son of a bitch and called the police.”

“Did they arrest him?” I ask, now interested.

“They sure did. Took him straight to jail. I have to go to court next month.”

I grab a pack of Reese’s peanut butter cups and head for the counter. The clerk rings me up and I count out the change to pay.

“You be safe tonight,” I say as I start to walk out the door.

“You too,” The clerk says, looking forlorn at being left alone without sober company.

It must be a lonely existence working the dead shift at a dumpy little convenience store in Podunk Alabama. The clerk clearly would talk to anything showing signs of life. I thanked my lucky stars that most of my living existence wasn’t being spent in such a dead end job earning minimum wage for food tokens. I did chuckle to myself once again as I thought of the clerk’s story of the little black man drinking beer and then stuffing the cans up in the ceiling to hide his crime. Only in small town Alabama, I thought as I walked on home.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Visitor in the Night

Dad came by tonight to check on me. I had my lights off and was lying in the bed listening to The Golden Age of Radio broadcast over the internet. I heard my door unlock and he walked into my darkened den calling out to me. Maggie went totally apeshit crazy she was so excited to get some company. I had to jump out of the bed and pick her up to keep her from rushing outside when dad opened my backdoor. She would have stayed out all night if I hadn’t to have acted quickly. It would devastate me if something were to happen to her. I couldn’t live without her.

“What’s going on?” Dad said as he went immediately to my refrigerator to check for beer. “It’s not like you to have your lights off so early. It just seems strange. I hope you are not drinking.”

“I was just lying in the bed listening to the radio,” I replied. “You can smell my breath for alcohol.”

Dad had me blow on his face to do our customary alcohol check. He had also brought this week’s medications carefully packed in their bubble pack.

“I want you to take this lithium and let’s see if it will stabilize your moods and stop these bad days you seem to have cyclically,” He told me. “Promise me you are going to take it.”

I took lithium years ago and it always upset my stomach. My father was concerned I wouldn’t take it because of that side effect.

“I promise,” I replied.

“Give me a hug,” Dad then said as he wrapped his arms around me. “We are going to keep trying till we find the right medications and get you well.”

I walked out upon my driveway as I waved at dad as he drove off. I worried tonight about a comment Dorid had written me earlier in the day about me writing on that post about Dad treating me as if I am retarded and not mentally ill. It has troubled me deeply tonight. That was a terrible thing to write and no person cares about me more than my father. He has stuck by me through thick and thin, and terrible times dealing with my illness. He worked 12 hours today and still took the time to bring me my medications, check on me, and to make sure I was sober. I realize I am truly blessed to have such a father and should not be so callous with the words I write upon this blog about him. Yes, he can treat me like a small child sometimes, but I have been known to act like one as well.

A Busy Week for the Blog

These stats started being counted last April.

Rosa’s Back in Town

I was glad to see Rosa and to find her back in town. I was kind of miffed that she didn’t call me and let me know though. Her aunt is still alive and there was no funeral. Rosa was excited to be reunited with some of her family after years of estrangement, but also saddened by her only aunt's ill health.

“I thought you would call me when you got home,” I said.
“What are we? Dating? Are we an item now?” Rosa asked as she laughed, making fun of my concern.

I laughed back nervously; not sure what to say. I realized it was best not to say a word. I don’t want to encourage Rosa’s misguided muse that we will sleep together again.

“What are we? Dating? Are we an item now?” Rosa asked as she laughed, making fun of my concern.

I laughed back nervously; not sure what to say. I realized it was best not to say a word. I don’t want to encourage Rosa’s misguided muse that we will sleep together again. I care about her deeply, but not in that kind of way; another good reason for me to stay sober these days. Rosa had no qualms about taking advantage of me when I had been drinking that day a few weeks ago.

“I am starving,” Rosa said, “And I am broke after that road trip.”

“Walk with me over to Rodger’s and we will get some lunch,” I said wanting some company. I hate to eat alone.

I and Rosa walked downtown and then across that grand Chattahoochee River to Rodger’s. Rosa was REALLY hungry and got the three piece catfish fillet plate. She couldn’t eat the third piece of catfish and I helped her finish her meal. Rodger’s has the best fried catfish I have ever eaten. I got the barbeque platter with chunked pork barbeque, Brunswick stew, cole slaw, and fries.

“I missed you while I was gone,” Rosa said as I and she walked back across the river towards downtown after our meal. “You have become so important to my life.”

I blushed and really appreciated the sentiment and her adulation.

“I’ve missed you, too,” I said, so glad she was home.

I and Rosa parted ways and I walked on home. It is a gorgeous day today. The only downside to the gorgeous spring weather we are having is that the pollen is wreaking havoc upon my allergies. As I often say, I will just take the good with the bad. Spring always brings a renewed vigor and vitality to my spirits. Good day.

On a Positive Note

“The quality of my life is ten times better than it used to be,” I told my father on the phone a while ago, speaking mainly of my primary anti-psychotic medication, Risperdal Consta.

He agreed.

What happened yesterday would usually find me in the hospital for a few weeks at most. And boy, do I not want to stay in the hospital. Staying in the psychiatric ward of a hospital is very akin to spending a few weeks in jail, except they have wonderful food. You don't want to eat the food in jail. Believe me.

It all comes out in the wash as they say, and I feel entirely better and different today. I am on a positive note and it is nice. Thank you for the many kind comments of support and concern. Let’s see if I can get things back to normal and revel you all with tales of George, Rosa, and the gang. I am headed down to the shopping center now to get up some writing material. A long walk and that fresh spring air will suit me well.

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God? Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

I hate to be so melancholy about my life and mental illness. The name of the blog is The 4th Avenue Blues, afterall, but I really dislike talking about it so much. It is just such a dominant and determining factor in my life and the quality thereof. So it gets a lot of airtime on this journal.

The time was 1am. I felt as if the four walls of my bedroom where closing in upon me. I set out for this morning’s hike as a lone freight train roared and blasted it’s horns through downtown. I walked down to the shopping center, which was dead this time of night, and then sat as I smoked one cigar after another. I longed for Rosa’s brusque company and her smoky, gravelly laugh. Any company of another would have done in a pinch to be honest. I was not choosey tonight and was deeply lonely.
I don’t want to live the next twenty medicated years in hell and disillusion hoping for a cure. I walked home carrying my burden which is my mental illness and that will always be my allegorical cross to bear.
“God? Am I always going to suffer?” I asked that mythical being in the beyond of my mental illness as I looked up at the millions of twinkling stars greeting me in the night sky.

“If you are real, I just wish you would give me a sign that things are going to be okay,” I said, quietly. “I can’t take suffering for the rest of my life. I felt so bad yesterday I thought I was going to die. I don’t want to die.”

I think it is only human nature to want to believe in something grander and more aspired than the simple lives we live, upon this little mote of dust in the deep, dark vastness of space. I wanted to be comforted and to have a relationship with that omnipotent being my grandmother so extolled during my youth. She made God and Jesus seem like such kind and caring individuals who wanted only the best for their loyal followers.

“There is no God,” I finally said as pulled on my cigar once more, guiltily, as a tear rolled down my cheek and a discomforting silence greeted me. “A just God wouldn’t let people suffer so and I see so much untoward suffering in the world.”

As I walked home, I resigned myself to the fact that I am genetically flawed. Humans have somewhat thwarted evolution through modern medicine and via the help of more genetically viable family members. They prop up and support those of us that wouldn’t survive a day in the grand scheme of things if survival of the fittest truly ruled the day. I realize that my life is about as good as it is ever going to get and I better make peace with my “gods” and resign myself to that fact. I don’t want to live the next twenty medicated years in hell and disillusion hoping for a cure. I sleepily walked on home carrying my burden which is my mental illness and that will always be my allegorical cross to bear.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Hard Day’s Night

I feel much better tonight. I finally got some good sleep this afternoon and calmed down. I and my doctor adjusted my medications somewhat. He took me off luvox and campral and added lithium for my readily apparent mood swings. He also re-diagnosed me as schizo-affective instead of just paranoid schizophrenic, which means I have bi-polar as well (like I need another mental illness label). I feel like such a psychiatric guinea pig. I did have to deal with my father's driving today, which is atrocious and notorious within the family.

At one point, dad stopped at Mrs. Story's Dairy Dee to get a slaw dog, chips, and a drink.

"You hungry?" He asked me as he sat eating his supper in his car.

"I think I am gonna puke," I replied at the smell and sound of him gorging himself, and I stood by his Honda with the dry heaves as my stomach did flip flops.

I was that messed up that I would pass up a free meal and you know me and food. I do like to eat and eat well, and the Dairy Dee has some of the best hot dogs in the area.

The noise and people surrounding that restaurant made my head swim and my anxiety surge. I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. I was so glad when I could arrive home and retire to the quiet confines of my little unassuming apartment. I felt 100% better after lying down and taking a very long nap. I was just so tired.

This evening found me quietly working on improving the little clunker of a computer I am using these days. I installed two Raptor 10,000 rpm hard drives in RAID 0 (taking two drives, striping them, and effectively doubling their performance) and reinstalled Windows Vista and got everything shipshape. It made a big difference in the speed of my computer and I am much happier with the piece of junk I am using to blog these days. Man, do I miss my old computer that died.

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Panic and Paranoia

“I can’t take driving down to the doctor, today,” I told my father having a panic and paranoia attack a moment ago on the phone.

“Calm down,” He said, cooly. “I am going to drive you down. Will that make it easier?”

Today is my father’s day off from work and I hated to impose, but I am having a terrible go of things today. I am experiencing agoraphobia where I panic at the prospect of leaving the house. I really needed the care and love of my family today and my father was there.

“Have you taken your medications?” He then asked me, concerned.

“I took everything, but the buspar,” I replied. "It makes me feel weird."

“Go take your buspar and call me back in an hour and let’s see if it helps,” He said. “It is supposed to work wonders for anxiety.”

I took my medicine and sat down in my quiet den. The only sound was that of the birds calling outside my open windows and it was comforting.

I realized that today would have been a prime drinking day when I was using. Alcohol would subdue my inhibitions and make my anxiety melt away. I would drink beer after beer until I forgot my problems and would soon pass out in the bed. I now realize why so many mentally ill people abuse substances in their efforts to do anything to feel better.

Well, let me go get some laundry going if I am going to have something to wear to the doctor’s appointment. Hopefully, my buspar will help. I am already feeling kind of “high” from it’s effects. I will talk to you all again soon when I am in a better mental frame of mind. Good day.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Good and the Bad

The Good
  • The early morning sun on a bright and crisp spring day.

  • Rosa’s smoky, gravelly laugh.

  • The wail of a train horn after midnight as you lay in the bed listening to the crickets serenading outside.

  • Cool, green grass beneath your bare feet and toes on a hot summer’s day after walking on blistering asphalt.

  • The curvature and silky smooth skin of a woman’s back beneath your hand as you both lie naked in the bed.

  • Maggie curled up beside me breathing softly as we go to sleep.

  • Many comments on a blog post you thought sucked and which was sloppily and clumsily written.

  • Southern, summer thunderstorms on a hot July afternoon.

  • Late night car rides out into the countryside to hear the katydids sing.

The Bad

  • The lack of universal healthcare.

  • Housing not being a right.

  • Our president being a puppet of an ignoramus.

  • The morning after you drank 24 beers in a 12 hour period.

  • Drunken sex.

  • 5 soldiers died in Iraq yesterday. Their names will be long forgotten by most when Anna Nicole Smith, months dead, captures the limelight for the umpteenth time by the media.

  • George’s ’81 Dodge Diplomat is dead. Long live the Diplomat!

  • Being treated like you’re crazy.

  • Your crazy meds making you impotent.

  • Clingy, obsessive people.

  • Fathers who treat you like you are retarded and not mentally ill.


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Marked Down Malt Liquor

“Dad said you are going with me to see my psychiatrist tomorrow,” I told my mother waiting on Papa John’s to deliver a pepperoni pizza tonight. “He said he was going to give me some money so we can eat at Red Lobster afterwards (I could never afford Red Lobster for Mom and me).”

“When did he say that?” She asked me, looking ill tempered.
The dormant drunk within me got excited at the prospect, just like George, which did more to sober me up from my dry drunk than a kettle of coffee.
“I talked to him on the phone an hour ago.”

“I can’t go tomorrow,” Mom then said brusquely, clearly not wanting to fool with me and my appointment. “I am going to tell your father to stuff it!”

Boy, did I not want to get caught in the middle of that little battlefront brewing. I paid for my pizza and walked home. I don’t know why I have my pizzas delivered to my parent’s house. I guess I feel it is easier to find being on the main thoroughfare through our neighborhood.

I ate a whole large pepperoni pan pizza to myself and then talked on the phone for a moment with George.

“They’ve got the Schlitz Malt Liquor priced wrong over at the convenience store by the cotton mill,” George said. “They are normally $5.99 and they be chargin’ $2.99.”

I laughed heartily at George and his juicy gossip.

“That is just what you need,” I told George sarcastically. “A drunk with marked down malt liquor.”

George laughed and then asked me if I would go in on a few six packs until he could pay me back. It was safe for George to tell me such clandestine gossip being that I no longer drink these days. Although, it sure was tempting to go get a six pack of tall boys for $2.99. The dormant drunk within me got excited at the prospect, just like George, which did more to sober me up from my dry drunk than a kettle of coffee.

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“I Ain’t Drivin’ off into the Sunset for Nobody,” He says selfishly.

Rosa received notice from a family friend that her aunt, Maria, is dying of liver cancer in Jacksonville, Florida today. Rosa didn’t know her all that well, but was trying to find a way to get to Jacksonville out of a feeling of family duty. It is her deceased mother’s only sister. It is the end of the month so I can’t just pack up and head out for a road trip unless Rosa doesn’t mind sleeping and camping on the side of the road in a tent and eating dollar menu fast food for a few days. Money is that tight before my check is scheduled to arrive on the first half of April.

“How far is Jacksonville?” Rosa asked me as we sat over at Rodger’s eating today.
Family life can grow so complicated in a moment’s notice and this is very hard for people with mental illness. Juggling the responsibilities and social maneuvering of a funeral, wedding, or birth can be a proverbial nightmare for someone suffering from schizophrenia or anxiety, and I suffer from both. I selfishly was glad it was Rosa dealing with all that and not me.
“If we left early in the morning, then we could be there late that night,” I replied, delicately dancing around this very hard and tumultuous family happenstance.

Rosa pulled out her purse’s wallet revealing a mish mashed jumble of crumpled one and five dollar bills. She started to flatten them and count them upon the table as I sat waiting for our waitress to bring our ticket.

“I’ve got $42 dollars,” Rosa said looking up at me earnestly for any signs of hope that I would take her. “That should pay for our gas.”

I am about the only one of Rosa’s friends that has a nice enough car to take such a long road trip.

“But where would we sleep? I am not going to want to drive all that way in just one day,” I said. “Jacksonville is on the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida.”

“Your father wouldn’t let you borrow a couple hundred bucks, would he?”

“No, If I borrow money from dad he will only think I am lying about the trip and am about to head off on one of my drinking binges,” I replied.

I never reveal to George, Rosa, or any of the gang that I have credit cards. Besides, I try to keep them paid off by the month, and two or three nights in a motel room would set me back a couple hundred dollars for two people. I am not sleeping in any roach motels. I also would never get that paid off next month on my meager income. I use them mainly for filling up my car with the “pay at the pump” feature. I abhor debt so funding a trip with my Visa and MasterCard was out of the question.

“I have no one else who can take me,” Rosa said, sullenly as we walked up the sidewalk across the bridge that spans that grand Chattahoochee River.

I put my arm around her shoulder and walked with her till we then crossed the Georgia state line back into Alabama.

“What are you gonna do?” I asked her as we walked through downtown.

“I am going over to my cousin’s house and see if he will take me,” She said. “If he hasn’t already left.”

I reached into my wallet to bring out my last twenty dollar bill from my blog advertisements and gave it to Rosa.

“Here’s a twenty,” I said. “That will give you sixty two dollars to eat on while you are gone.”

“Thank you,” Rosa said as she kissed me on the cheek. “I will see you in a few days. Don’t forget about me.”

I and Rosa parted ways as I walked the rest of the way home to take another nap wondering if she will make it to Jacksonville in time before her Aunt dies. At least she will be there for the funeral. Family life can grow so complicated in a moment’s notice and this is very hard for people with mental illness. Juggling the responsibilities and social maneuvering of a funeral, wedding, or birth can be a proverbial nightmare for someone suffering from schizophrenia or anxiety, and I suffer from both. I selfishly was glad it was Rosa dealing with all that and not me. Isn’t that just sad and speaks volumes about what a pitiful little soul I can be at times! I wish there was more I could have done for Rosa. I am going to miss her while she is gone. We have become inseparable.
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Liquid Stupid

Late yesterday evening found me over at George’s house after a long afternoon nap. I had driven over to see what he wanted earlier in the day. George wasn't home, but George’s mom was in the kitchen getting up some supper. I often find her cooking when I drive over.

“He’s over at that damn Pookie’s house,” She told me, frowning. “No doubt, playing poker, drinking, and raisin' hell.”
George will once again come walking over sheepishly today to see if he can borrow some more money to start the process all over again. I am just glad my crazy drinking days are behind me for the most part. Alcohol has to be the most nefarious form of liquid stupid in a bottle.
I wasn’t about to drive to Pookie’s house to find George. Pookie’s house is a known drug house and there are often many nefarious characters hanging out at all times of the day and night. My paranoia gets the best of me the few times I just happened to go over there with George. I already have paranoia about the police and you add crack smoking fiends to the mix and Andrew’s schizophrenia can get the best of him.

“Baby, I wish you could talk George into going to those stop drinking meetings with you,” George’s elderly mom said of my A.A. meetings as she put some boiled potatoes in the big metal bowl of her Kitchen Aid mixer.

“He won’t go because no other black people go to those meetings,” I replied as I stood in the kitchen. “We used to have one black man named Anthony that came all the time, but one day he just disappeared and never showed up again. I always remember him because he had a big old gunshot wound in his stomach that had healed badly and he often showed it off as some kind of badge of courage.”

“That’s a shame,” Mrs. Jones said as she turned on the mixer adding butter, milk, salt, and ground pepper to the mixture of cubed boiled potatoes making mashed potatoes.

George’s mother then walked over to the stove to heat up some vegetable oil and placed four large pieces of cubed steak in the big cast iron skillet. They sizzled and popped loudly as she added the flour coated steak to the hot oil. The smell of that cooking steak made my stomach grumble.

If you don’t know already, I adore George’s mom. When I was a child my mother always had a cook and maid named Rene for most of my formative years. Rene was more of a mother to me than my own mother as my mom worked all the time as a school teacher when I was growing up. George’s mom reminds me of Rene in that you always find her in the kitchen, cooking, and getting up wonderful meals, and she keeps an immaculate house. George’s mom and Rene are akin to those great southern black ladies of the south as if they came from the pages of Gone with the Wind. They are a kind and dying breed in this day of gansta rap, chromed wheels, and the thug culture blacks are so embroiled in.

“Baby, you sure you won’t drive over and get George and bring him home for supper?” Mrs. Jones then asked.

“Ma’am, I am sorry, but I don’t go around Pookie and that crowd that hangs out over there,” I replied, solemnly and seriously.

“Well, let me fix you some steak biscuits to take home with you before you leave.”

I watched as George’s mom pulled a big pan of hot and risen biscuits out of her 500 degree oven. She carefully cut each steaming biscuit in half, adding a dab of butter, and then added a small cut square piece of cubed steak. She then put four steak biscuits in a Ziploc bag which immediately steamed up from the heat of those hot biscuits and pieces of steak.

“Give me a hug, baby, before you go.” She said as she handed me the Ziploc bag.

I gave Mrs. Jones a hug and drove on home wondering if George would ever come home last night. Pookie will probably once again raid his wallet as he is passed out drunk in her bed. George will once again come walking over sheepishly today to see if he can borrow some more money to start the process all over again. I am just glad my crazy drinking days are behind me for the most part. Alcohol has to be the most nefarious form of liquid stupid in a bottle.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Here, I Give You the Poorest Bank in America

“George is looking for you. He actually walked all the way over here to find you from his house,” Rosa told me as I sat eating my two barbeque sandwiches from Rodger’s Barbeque for lunch.

“I live five minutes behind this shopping center,” I said, perplexed. “I must have missed him when I walked to Rodger’s. He probably just wants to borrow some money.”
An elderly lady dressed in a Jimi Hendrix “Are you Experienced?” tie dyed t-shirt then walked into the dollar store just above us and disappeared inside the store.

Rosa laughed at the lady and said, “That ought to be a crime. I wonder if she smokes the wacky weed, too.”

“I wouldn’t give that son of a bitch a dime,” Rosa said, coarsely.

“For a grown woman, you have the most awful potty mouth,” I said as I frowned. “Besides, George always pays me back. It is like an interest free loan. I am George’s bank and what a poor bank it is.”

I chuckled and Rosa laughed at me about the poor bank saying.

“Are you gonna eat those potato chips?” Rosa then asked, hungrily eyeing the bag of sour cream and onion flavored chips I had brought with my sandwiches and that were yet to be eaten.

“Here,” I said handing them to her as I opened them. “I am full.”

An elderly lady dressed in a Jimi Hendrix “Are you Experienced?” tie dyed t-shirt then walked into the dollar store just above us and disappeared inside the store.

Rosa laughed at the lady and said, “That ought to be a crime. I wonder if she smokes the wacky weed, too.”

I burst out laughing. For some reason, that struck me as so funny and the old lady did look goofy with a tie dyed t-shirt that would be more at home on a dope smoking college student or high school kid.


“I still wouldn’t give him a damn dime,” Rosa then said, changing the subject once again, with her mouth full of potato chips and a scowl upon her face.

Rosa dislikes George for the most part because George will not let her “borrow” cigars that will never be paid back. I can’t quite blame him, actually. Rosa has bummed enough smokes from me for me to start my own tobacco shop with.

“I am gonna head home and call his cell phone,” I said as I got up, interested to know what was going on with George today.

I actually had twenty bucks I could let him borrow. I got an email the other day about me “enabling” George to drink by letting him borrow money all the time. I replied with just a smiley face and my name. George is going to find a way to get a stiff drink no matter what I do or don’t do.

“Hey, you ain’t got five bucks, do you?” Rosa then asked me as I started to walk away.

“I paid for your lunch yesterday, gave you my potato chips and some smokes, and you still want to borrow five bucks?” I asked as I turned around to face Rosa once again, grimacing.

“Ple-e-e-e-ease?” Rosa pleaded as she grabbed my arm and pulled me close.

“I don’t have it,” I said as I told a small white lie and walked on home, glad to get out of there before I could be pestered about money anymore.

Too bad, I don’t charge interest, I thought as I walked. It would pay for the new vinyl siding on my house that will go up soon.

I never could get George on the phone. I hope he paid his cell phone bill this month. I did get to talk to my brother in San Diego for a good thirty minutes, though. It was good to hear his voice and we laughed and laughed, joking about how horrible of a driver my father is and the time he drove into Mexico without car insurance.

Oh, and hi Dad! *waves* My father is now reading my journal every day to check up on me and to see what I am doing.

Well, a nap is calling me after a night devoid of decent sleep. Come on, Maggie, let’s hit the hay.

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A Ring in the Night

I was lying in bed last night. The time was near midnight. I had the ringer to my phone turned off and my answering machine caught the call. All I could hear was someone breathing and a television on in the background and they hung up without saying anything. I have a good idea it was Carolyn. Good thing I didn’t pick up that phone. I couldn’t deal with another guilt trip last night. I still care about her deeply and want her to be okay, but I know it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. It is best not to say anything in the heat of the moment that I would later regret. I was afraid I might blurt out that four letter word…L-O-V-E.
I am not happy with how I have been writing lately. I am my own worst critic. My descriptions of my life and interactions with people are so plain and matter of fact. I wish I could be a more capable word weaver and incorporate more descriptive writing filled with metaphors and similes.
This morning I once again set out for my daily walk. The sweet smell of the many spring flowers blooming was upon the air and set a splendid ambiance for this nice and warm spring morning. I felt so good today and my spirits were in good cheer despite only four hours of sleep. I have just resigned myself to the fact that my body doesn’t need much sleep these days.

I arrived home and was entirely too lazy to fix a big breakfast and just made some buttered toast in my toaster oven. I sat eating my toast as I read over what I wrote last week. I am not happy with how I have been writing lately. I am my own worst critic. My descriptions of my life and interactions with people are so plain and matter of fact. I wish I could be a more capable word weaver and incorporate more descriptive writing filled with metaphors and similes. I am an entirely lazy writer and most blog entries take only a few short minutes to write and to publish. I really need to start taking more time with my writing and actually write a draft and then revise it. Knowing me though, I will just continue on with the status quo. I guess I better just take the good with the bad. If I make blogging a chore and work then this blog will die and I will no longer write.

I hope you all have a good day today. Of course, I will stop by your blogs to see how my online friends are doing. Take care all of you and thanks so much for being a part of my life with the wonderful comments you send my way. I do appreciate them very much and they make blogging worthwhile. Have a great day my dear friends.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Agnostic Gnostic

I and Rosa drove down to a local western themed restaurant to eat today. Rosa was in good spirits and we laughed, talked, and had a good time on the drive down. I then gorged myself upon numerous pieces of fried chicken, stuffed crab, heaping servings of macaroni and cheese, and a green salad smothered in blue cheese dressing from the buffet. Rosa got the petite sirloin, medium well, and it was delicious as she gave me a bite to try it.
“What exactly is agnostic?” Rosa asked.

“It means I am not sure what I believe,” I replied. “I have an open mind to all possibilities. I used to call myself an atheist, but the term was just too constricting and divisive.”

On the drive home, Rosa fell asleep in the passenger’s seat as I turned down the radio and smoked numerous cigars as I drove up the interstate. We then stopped at a local truck stop to fill up my car and Rosa awoke to go use the bathroom inside. Filling up at that truck stop brought back so many memories of my big rig truck driving days. Not all pleasant memories, mind you, as truck stops can be seedy dives and I have experienced enough for a life time. We then got back on the interstate and headed back to the Chattahoochee Valley.

“Do you still go to A.A.?” Rosa asked me as I drove us home.

“I try to go on weeknights,” I replied. “I don’t like the weekend meetings...too many stodgy old farts.”

“I went a few times when I got sober after staying in a treatment center,” Rosa said. “I just couldn’t get into it.”

“It’s not for everyone,” I replied. “I struggle with the religious aspects of the twelve steps.”

“There is no God,” Rosa said, tersely and plainly.

“I really don’t know,” I said. “I am leaning agnostic these days.”

“What exactly is agnostic?” Rosa asked.

“It means I am not sure what I believe,” I replied. “I have an open mind to all possibilities. I used to call myself an atheist, but the term was just too constricting and divisive.”

We continued talking as I drove. I then dropped Rosa off at a friend’s house and came home to take a very, very long nap. I will never sleep tonight.

Well, let me get some supper started. You would think after all I ate for lunch that I wouldn’t be hungry, but I am starving once again. I think I may have a tapeworm or other assorted parasites. I am a bottomless pit as far as eating goes these days. Good night, gentle readers.

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Severing the Ties to the Divine

I never made it out camping over at our pond yesterday evening. I got to chatting in a chat room and looked up hours later to find it almost dark outside. I did set my tent up in the backyard and slept in my sleeping bag last night, outside. Boy was it hot here until well after midnight. We are supposed to have a record high of 88 degrees today.
I was also pretty crazy during our marriage and wasn’t taking my medications. I was under the pretty extreme delusion that God and Jesus were talking to me and the medications would sever that tie to the divine that my schizophrenic mind so embraced during those years.
When I was married, I would pack up all my camping gear in my backpack and would just disappear on my Suzuki Bandit motorcycle out into the country sometimes. Rachel loved to argue and I didn’t, and I just couldn’t take all that bullshit in my life. Rachel had a way of nagging me about silly stuff until I felt my head was going to explode. Eventually, she would drive out into the country to my favorite haunting grounds, find me, and drag me home after a few days of me camping. I would usually call her from a payphone to let her know I was safe as well.

Those little jaunts into the woods were the only times I ever felt happy during our marriage other than our honeymoon train ride to Washington D.C. I was also pretty crazy during our marriage and wasn’t taking my medications. I was under the pretty extreme delusion that God and Jesus were talking to me and the medications would sever that tie to the divine that my schizophrenic mind so embraced during those years.

I and Rachel had a whirlwind of a relationship. I was working as a research technician in Forestry at the time for a major university. We met at my brother’s wedding. She emailed me that next Monday and we went out. I should have realized things were going too fast when we slept together just a few days later. I was Rachel’s second husband. I had never been married before and didn’t have a lot of experience with relationships. It was a new and novel experience to be so actively pursued by a woman. We were married just a few short months later and it proved to be one of the worst mistakes of my life. I ended up homeless and lost almost everything in the divorce.

Well, let me head out for my daily hike. I and Rosa are also driving down to a nearby town to eat at an all-you-can-eat Sunday buffet for lunch and I look forward to stuffing myself silly with food. I will write of that experience once I get home this afternoon. It will probably be much more interesting than this boring post. Good morning, world!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wanderlust

It has been a beautifully warm day as I stood down at the shopping center talking with Rosa a few hours ago. I hadn’t seen her in a few days and was growing worried about her. I was glad to hear she had just been busy with some family issues she has been trying to iron out.

“It looks like it might rain,” Rosa said as she looked towards the cloud filled sky as we both stood leaned up against the wall down from the dollar store.

“It’s not going to rain,” I replied. “We have high pressure over us.”

“Did you hear about George’s car?”

“I was the one who diagnosed the problem for George,” I replied. "His engine is completely locked up."

Rosa then wrapped her arms around my arm and put her head upon my shoulder. I blushed from the affectionate attention. It actually made me feel kind of uncomfortable.

“You haven’t got a cigarette, do you?” Rosa asked, looking up at my face as she held me close.

I reached into my backpack as I smiled to bring out my extra pack of little cigars.

“It’s not very ladylike to smoke cigars,” I said, giving her a hard time as I handed her the pack. “I see why you are being so nice. You want a smoke.”

Rosa laughed and elbowed me in the ribs jest-fully.

“I don’t give a shit what other people think,” She told me, which has been obvious these past few months we have grown to know each other.

I then left Rosa, glad she was ok, to walk down to the train tracks to watch a passing freight. I longed to hop aboard one of those hopper cars and embark upon a journey towards Atlanta.

When I was a child, I and my friends would hop slow freights down at the rail yard and ride them miles away and then jump off behind the grocery store to walk back home. Those were such simple times then when I didn’t understand the kind of danger I was placing myself in. These days you would get arrested for doing that. Still, the child in me wanted to hop that freight and journey off into the unknown.

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In the Still of the Night

I once again walked those streetlight lined streets this morning. I reveled in the fact that spring is finally here and the cold is a distant memory these days. Winter always imparts the doldrums upon me and the arrival of spring brings a renewed vigor to my spirit and demeanor.

I made my way up the sidewalk on highway 29 thinking of George this morning. I wonder what ole George is going to do without his car. I can’t imagine him getting a regular, more mainstream, job. “Do you want fries with that?” I could picture George in my mind asking customers down at McDonald’s as I chuckled to myself. Knowing George, he would tell the manager to stick it where the sun don’t shine and would walk out at the first sign of trouble or hard work. I could also picture him coming in to work still drunk from the night before, red eyed and hung-over. It is going to be interesting to see how this new chapter in George’s life unfolds.

I finally arrived at the all-night convenience store around 3am. The shopkeeper was perched upon and sitting on the counter glaring at a porno mag. I once worked the third shift at this very convenience store and the police would come in and peruse the porno magazine stand behind the counter every night. I wondered if they still do that as they fill up their patrol cars waiting for their shifts to end.

“Good morning,” The shopkeeper said as he hastily put the magazine under the counter and stood erect as I walked in.

“Good morning,” I replied in return as I walked to the back of the store to pull out a Coca-cola.

“What else can I get you?” He then asked me as I placed the Coke upon the counter by the register.

“I need a carton of Smoker’s Choice little cigars,” I replied as I reached for my wallet to pull out my Visa card.

“$11.76,” The shopkeeper said as he held out his hand to grab the card and then asked me if it was credit or debit.

I left the store and walked on up past the Chicken Stop restaurant into the old part of downtown that is about dead these days. I decided to take a shortcut through a very rundown neighborhood that would prove to be a bad decision and a scary situation later.

The time was getting close to 4am when I walked down that dark street in one of the worst neighborhoods in town. Up ahead, I could see a house brightly lit and loud rap music emanating from inside it. About six people were out in the front yard drinking malt liquor and talking and hooting loudly. I walked past several condemned houses as I crossed the street to give me and these party goers a wide berth. They started to hurl racial slurs my way as I walked past.

“Hey honkey, what are you doing in this neighborhood so late?” A young African American male catcalled at me fueled by the bravado that alcohol can impart.

I pulled my backpack tightly upon my shoulder and soldiered on making sure not to make eye contact. The noise of the party faded into the background behind me and I sighed relieved to had escaped danger as I finally trudged up the last few feet of that road as it emptied me out into a much nicer neighborhood not far from my home.

As I arrived home, Maggie was sitting at my backdoor looking out. They say dogs are a man’s best friend and I would have to agree. Maggie always greets me as if I have been gone for weeks. I rubbed her head, scratched her back, lit up a cigar, and sat down to write this. I will soon climb back into the bed to get a few more hours of sleep after breakfast and morning meds. I hope you all have a great Saturday and that you enjoy your weekend. Good day. I am off, once again, to the land of dreams.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

A Quiet Day Ends

I had a quiet and uneventful day, today. I took a very long nap this afternoon after taking my noon dose of medications. I finally narrowed down what medication is causing me such strife as far as side effects go. It is my Busphar for anxiety. It will make my heart race violently and I will feel dizzy and drunk within thirty minutes of taking it. It is not a pleasant feeling and I didn’t take it tonight and feel fine. I take so many medications that dropping one shouldn’t hurt too much.

I posted some pictures on my photo blog of my new hardwood floors and Maggie’s new fence being erected. I was so excited to finally see those floors today. They look great and I can’t wait to move in my new home. I was thinking today how nice it is going to be to never have a mortgage or to pay rent. It will really help me stretch my disability check farther. The utilities at my new house are very inexpensive as well as the house is so small. I am going to enjoy having central heating and air conditioning.

It was a beautiful day today. The temperature got up to a high of 82 degrees according to my wireless weather station. Tonight, I can hear the first nocturnal insects of the spring season singing. One of those loud locusts flew inside as I had all my windows open and it’s shrill song rang out near me and scared me to death. The sound was almost deafening the locust was so near. Moments later, I heard a crunching noise and looked over to find Maggie making a late evening snack of the thing. GROSS!

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

R.I.P. George’s ’81 Dodge Diplomat

It came to my attention this afternoon that George’s car is finally dead after decades of service. I and my mother had gone out to eat at Captain D’s and I returned home to find four, count them, four messages on my answering machine from George.

Hey crazy white boy. Since you be the mechanic, I want you to see if you can get my car running. Sorry about yesterday. I didn’t be meanin’ to bother you about borrowing money. Call me when you get home, George said in his last message.


I called George and we both walked down to his car that was sitting dead behind the convenience store and car wash. The engine was completely locked up and the oil smelled burnt. George was not happy when I told him that the engine was a goner. I doubt they even sell replacement engines for such an older oddball vehicle.

“Call me if you need a ride in an emergency,” I told George as I started to walk the five minutes back home.

“What I am going to do?” George asked, looking completely disgusted and confused.

“Save up some money and buy you a nice, used, and reliable Honda Civic or Accord,” I replied, not knowing what else to say.

George’s cousin, Monte, is supposed to come and tow the car to George’s house. George also has an old ’79 Ford Thunderbird, but it isn’t running at the moment as well. I don’t know what George is going to do. George’s car was the lifeblood of his money making scheme and an integral part of his eccentric personality. I guess George will have to sober up and take a regular job like a normal person. I can’t imagine George working for someone else though. He is so independent and opinionated. It will be strange days, indeed.

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I have a friend who loves to hear what I eat at Rodger's Barbeque on a daily basis so this is for her. I was going to take a picture of today's meal, but my stomach overruled and I ate it before taking a photo. Today, I had country fried steak and gravy, mashed potatoes, steamed cabbage, pinto beans, cornbread, and a big glass of sweet iced tea. It was delicious.

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Over Cups of Joe

I and Wanda sat in the Waffle House late last night drinking cups of coffee and smoking after the late Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. She was trying to urge me to overcome my fears of the phone and to get a sponsor.

“Having a sponsor is the cornerstone of A.A.” She told me, very persuading.
I realize I have a hard time grasping the spiritual and religious aspects of A.A., but I do so enjoy the social aspects and the close camaraderie of the program. I guess I will just always have to take the good with the bad.
“I know,” I replied. “I realize how important it is. I just won’t call though. I have such terrible phobias surrounding the phone and will only talk to someone if I implicitly trust them and feel comfortable with them.”

I would have liked Wanda to be my sponsor, but a male-female sponsorship is a big taboo and no-no within A.A. Getting sober is tough and hard enough without adding the complications that can arise when dealing with the opposite sex.

“Have you talked to Phillip?” Wanda then asked me. “He is great at being a temporary sponsor and finding newcomers more long term sponsors.”

Phillip is kind of the patriarch at our local A.A. meetings. He has decades of sobriety and is there at every meeting and chairs many meetings as well.

“I don’t like Phillip,” I said, honestly, thinking of one incident when he ran off a newcomer when the newcomer revealed he had problems with drugs as well. “He is just too stodgy and set in his ways. I want someone that is not old enough to be my grandfather. His ‘singular of purpose’ mantra he so touts irks me.”

Wanda laughed and said she understood.

“He can be a stick in the mud sometimes, can’t he?” She said as she smiled warmly. “He means well though.”

“You took the words right out of mouth,” I replied, smiling in return.

Wanda paid for our cups of coffee and we stepped out into the parking lot to head home.

“I’ll see you tomorrow night at a meeting, right?” She asked.

“I’ll be there. I promise,” I replied as I got in my car.

Wanda told me goodbye and I drove on home feeling calm and collected. I realize I have a hard time grasping the spiritual and religious aspects of A.A., but I do so enjoy the social aspects and the close camaraderie of the program. I guess I will just always have to take the good with the bad.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Drunk in my Life Besides Myself

I don’t often get to see George smoke cigarettes. I can only remember one other time when he was three sheets to the wind over at my house. He had run out of cigars and was smoking my Gold Coast Lights 100s that I was smoking at the time. I give George credit for getting me onto smoking cigars instead of those other damnable addictive things, and cigars are half the cost without all the funky additives that cigarettes have. I still crave cigarettes everyday despite smoking cigars though. That is how damned addictive the things are.

George came by the house a moment ago wanting to borrow twenty bucks and a couple of packs of cigarettes for some strange reason. I gave him two packs of little cigars instead.
I have had my fill of drinking and inebriated people for at least a few weeks until my alcoholic cycle resets itself and I forget how terrible I feel after drinking all day and night and repeat the cycle once again. I have picked up enough white poker chips* at Alcoholics Anonymous to start my own casino or poker hall. C'est la vie as they say.
“You sure you can’t help me get up twenty bucks?” George asked.

“Where is your car?” I asked dodging the subject as George had apparently walked up from the shopping center.

George’s mom’s house is a thirty minute walk away so I found that unlikely. My house is five to ten minute walk from the shopping center depending on the speed of your gait and whether or not you stop to enjoy the neighborhood scenery and the regal ambiance (sarcasm).

“It is sitting down behind the car wash and won’t crank,” George replied, looking stymied.

“What’s wrong with it?” I then asked.

“Hell, I don’t know,” George said. “I’ve got a long walk home and wanted something to smoke and drink for the trip.”

George was apparently too tipsy to care today. He is usually pretty good about keeping that piece of crap ’81 Dodge Diplomat running. I then smiled thinking that George will never change as I walked inside, and then walked back out to hand George two packs of little cigars.

“I can’t help you with the alcohol, but here is something to smoke,” I said as George put the packs of cigars into his dingy pants pocket.

George then muttered something about going to find Big S and borrowing some money. I scoffed at that to myself as I chuckled. The likelihood of Big S letting George borrow money was slim to none. Big S is a greedy, miserly old bastard.

“You sure you can’t walk over to your pop’s house and borrow twenty bucks?” George asked once again, pleading.

“Sorry man, I can’t help you,” I replied. “I am broke until next month when my check is electronically deposited in my checking account.”

“Damn,” George said, red eyed and hung-over looking. “I’ll see ya later.”

George walked on down the street and disappeared over the hill as I was hooking up my car battery to a battery charger. I can’t say I wasn’t glad that George’s visit was short and uneventful. I have had my fill of drinking and inebriated people for at least a few weeks until my alcoholic cycle resets itself and I forget how terrible I feel after drinking all day and night and repeat the cycle once again. I have picked up enough white poker chips* at Alcoholics Anonymous to start my own casino or poker hall. C'est la vie as they say.

*Picking up a white poker chip at A.A. signifies your first day of sobriety after “being back out” as they call it in A.A. which means you’ve been drinking and have fallen off the wagon so to speak.

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A Place to Hang my Proverbial Hat

“You’ve got to start picking up that phone and calling folks when you have a hard time with your drinking,” Wanda told me as we sat outside smoking after our Alcoholics Anonymous meeting last night.

“I know,” I said. “I just have a phobia about the phone and will not call people with my problems. I feel as if I am bothering them.”
“Tell me,” Wanda then said. “What are you going to do the next time you want a drink?”

“I am going to pick up the phone and make some phone calls,” I replied, shyly and unsurely.

“That’s what I like to hear,” She said as she gave me a hug. “You call me anytime of the day or night and I will be there. You are not alone.”

“You help other alcoholics by sharing your problems,” She replied. “It is through the service to others that we stay sober.”

Wanda was right. I wish I was one of those gregarious persons who could just call on a whim and talk for hours. I am so terribly shy though when it concerns the phone. I have little to no self esteem in such matters.

Our meeting last night was pretty routine. We discussed step one of the twelve steps – admitting we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable. It is so hard to admit you don’t have control or the willpower to conquer something though. My life had definitely grown unmanageable when I was drinking. Homelessness and a horrible divorce was a pretty good sign that something was terribly wrong in my life and that I was addicted. It is sad that I have always had to learn my lessons the hard way. I have always taken the least easy path through life which has been my curse I must bear.

“Tell me,” Wanda then said. “What are you going to do the next time you want a drink?”

“I am going to pick up the phone and make some phone calls,” I replied, shyly and unsurely.

“That’s what I like to hear,” She said as she gave me a hug. “You call me anytime of the day or night and I will be there. You are not alone.”

I then put out my cigar and walked on home. I thought of all the wonderful people in those hallowed halls that had walked many days in my shoes. I realize A.A. is akin to a religious cult, but there is something so comforting about being around people who have dealt with those same trials and tribulations experienced when dealing with alcoholism. Alcoholism is such a terribly lonesome disease and it was nice to not feel so alone anymore when I first started going to Alcoholics Anonymous. I felt as if I had arrived home after a very long and lost journey. I finally had a place to hang my proverbial hat by the door.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Good Ole Dan and an Early Birthday Present

I got behind Dumpster Diving Dan driving to Rodger’s Barbeque today. I noticed Dan drives at a snail’s pace which is stereotypical for senior citizens to do. He looked in his rear view mirror to find me behind him and waved. I pulled into Rodger’s parking lot and he followed me in after I had passed him.

“You got more of that Chef Boyardee this week?” He asked as his dog barked loudly at a black man walking across the parking lot.

“Mom bought me eight cans yesterday, all beeferoni,” I replied.

“Okay if I come by and get them this afternoon?” He then asked.

“Sure,” I said, warmly. “I will never eat it.”

Dan shook my hand and then pulled out of the parking lot of Rodger’s to go check the dumpster at the convenience store across the street that we both affectionately call Rectum. I walked in and got the super burger plate to-go and I put a picture of it on my photo blog.

I also had some very welcomed good news today. Charlie came over after lunch to talk to me. At first, I thought something was wrong as Charlie is usually always at work in Dadeville this time of the day.

“I paid some men to refinish your hardwood floors today,” He told me.

“You're kidding, right?” I asked, so surprised.

“Nope,” He said. “They started sanding them this afternoon. I gave them a key if that is okay by you.”

“Sure,” I said, ecstatic. “How much is this going to cost?”

“It’s your early birthday present from me,” Charlie replied as he patted me on the back. “I wanted it just as much as you did.”

I could have never afforded to get my hardwood floors refinished and am so excited about seeing them when the workers are done. I guess this means I won’t be putting in new carpet after all. I will post some pictures in a few days of how they look on my photo blog once the guys finish their work. It has been a good day despite a hard evening yesterday. Thankfully, life has a way of turning around at a moment’s notice like that. At least, my life does.

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A Helping Hand

My father sat on my floor petting Maggie after midnight last night. He had a very long day at work and was just getting home. He knew something was wrong with me.

“Hand me the mouthwash,” He said. “I am going to pour it out.”

Luckily, I had only had two drinks of that horrible liquid.

“I knew something was wrong with you when you showed up at the store,” He said as he held my hand. “You are on a high. You are so cyclical.”

“I just felt bad and wanted to escape reality,” I replied. “I have done so well lately and would hate to ruin things as they are.”

“We are not going to get into an uproar,” My father said calmly. “I love you and you just need some help sometimes to stay on track. Walk over to the house and I am going to give you something to sleep and to calm you down.”

I and my father walked the short distance to his home in the dark of the night. He stepped into his bathroom to get two of my Librium I have a prescription for.

“Take these, go to sleep, and call me in the morning to let me know you are okay.”

I took both pills and went home to get one of the better nights of sleep I have had in weeks. I feel so much better this morning. I feel refreshed and renewed. Those Librium did the trick. I am experiencing a welcomed calm after a short lived storm.

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Things Done While Crazy

Here are some of the more interesting delusions and thoughts I had while un-medicated…

  • When I was in college and had an apartment, I thought my upstairs neighbors were bugging my phone and eavesdropping. I also thought they had put cameras in my ceilings so they could watch my every move. I took apart the very nice cordless phone I had to find nothing. I also nailed quilts upon my windows so they couldn’t spy inside and tore holes in my ceiling with a crow bar looking for those imaginary cameras. It was one of the more mentally interesting moments in the history of my schizophrenia.

  • After my divorce, I thought Rachel had become pregnant by me and was starring in porno films. I kept calling her and my father to talk about the imaginary baby that was on the way. Rachel would grow so exasperated with me when she would try to convince me she wasn’t pregnant. My ex-wife was also a prude and would never take her clothes off for money let alone star in porno films as well. It shows how delusional I can get sometimes when I am not taking my medications.

  • When I was married, I thought God and Jesus were speaking to me through the internet and television. I starting keeping a written journal of gibberish that I thought was the word of God as spoken to me by the nightly newscasters. This particular phase of my mental illness drove my then wife crazy at the time. She just didn’t know what to do with me and I wouldn’t take my medications on a regular basis.

  • For the longest time, I would grow extremely paranoid when I would drive my car. I thought I was being followed by the police and FBI and would take weird, out-of-the-way routes home and to work to confuse my imagined pursuers. I really shouldn’t have been driving at the time.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The Day of the Sleepless Bum

“You look like crap,” Rosa told me as we were driving across the river headed to Roger’s Barbeque to pick up lunch.

“I only got three hours of sleep last night,” I replied defensively and blearily, lamenting that very fact.

I felt just about as bad as I looked. I hadn’t shaved and had a mid-afternoon shadow of a beard. My hair was a mess and concealed with a baseball cap. I hadn’t had a shower and was still wearing the same clothes from the previous day. I reminded myself of my less than self-caring days of my homelessness. My lackadaisical approach to life and living today was telling. I looked like a bum. I could care less though I was so tired.
I jokingly leaned my head back letting food dribble out of the side of my mouth as I rolled my eyes back up into their sockets.

“Ohhhh….” I moaned as I held my fork up towards Rosa. “I don’t feel so good. I feel crazy homicidal.”

I then burst out laughing bringing myself back to my normal demeanor.

“What do you want to eat?” I then asked Rosa as we pulled up into the parking lot and I started to get out of the car.

“Just get me the daily special,” She said. “Thanks.”

I ordered two daily specials to-go so I wouldn’t have to leave a tip and put it on my tab. We then drove back across the river to my house to eat. Maggie grew extremely excited when she realized we had company. Rosa picked up Maggie and let the dear soul start to lick her on her lips and face as Maggie wiggled vigorously in her arms. I smiled and at the same time thought how gross that was when we were about to eat.

I can’t believe I slept with this woman, I thought as I stood there and watched.

I then poured us two glasses of sweet iced tea and we sat at my kitchen table eating our delicious and filling meals from their to-go boxes.

“Your father pays for these meals, right?” Rosa asked.

“He usually gives me sixty dollars a week to eat,” I replied as I took a bite of my turkey and dressing.

“It must be nice,” Rosa said sarcastically with an air of petty jealousy in her voice.

I looked up, but ignored her petty brusqueness and continued to hungrily eat my food. I was starving after not getting breakfast this morning.

“How are your symptoms today?” Rosa then asked of my schizophrenia trying to make small talk.

I jokingly leaned my head back letting food dribble out of the side of my mouth as I rolled my eyes back up into their sockets.

“Ohhhh….” I moaned as I held my fork up towards Rosa. “I don’t feel so good. I feel crazy homicidal.”

I then burst out laughing bringing myself back to my normal demeanor.

“Shit, don’t scare me like that,” Rosa said as she laughed nervously. “I thought you were being serious and something was bad wrong. You can act weird sometimes.”

I continued to laugh heartily as I finished the last bite of my turkey.

“I feel okay,” I said bringing a serious air to my voice as I chewed the last morsel of my meal. “Despite not sleeping, amazingly, I feel okay.”

“George said the other day you see imaginary shit.”

“I often see what looks like the holograms of cats lying around everywhere around the house,” I replied. “It happens more when I am under stress.”

“No shit?” Rosa said.

“No shit,” I replied as I smiled, glad that wasn’t happening today.

“I can’t imagine seeing stuff that isn’t there,” Rosa said wistfully.

“It not fun,” I replied as I then stood at the sink washing our silverware and drinking glasses. “That is why I have to take medications.”

“I admire you,” Rosa said. “Despite all that you have going on mentally, you still have an upbeat attitude and are an all around cool and caring person. You can joke about it. You would think most schizophrenics are so crazy they can only think of themselves.”

“Thanks,” I said as I smiled warmly. “I appreciate the compliment. I just wish my father felt that way.”

Rosa soon left to walk back into to town to do what Rosa normally does. I think I am going to go crawl into the bed and see if sleep will overcome me. I feel as if I could sleep for weeks on end I am so tired. Here’s to hoping beautiful and sexy voluptuous women will visit me in my dreams in a moment. The more the merrier. That would be much better than the vivid medication induced nightmares I’ve had recently. Good day.

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An Oasis in the Night

Street lights glared and shone with a harsh glow as I walked the city streets two hours past midnight this morning. Once again, I am having trouble sleeping. A good friend of mine with a mental illness is in the same dilemma as well. I guess we are kindred spirits these days. Great minds think alike I just thought facetiously. I kept thinking a good, long walk would make me grow sleepy and tired.
I sighed relieved when I checked my back pocket for my wallet finding it there fearing the officer would check my I.D. We live in such an overly sensitive and alert world after 9/11; very much akin to the government police state described in Orwell’s 1984.
2am found me standing in the all-night convenience store. I had scraped up enough pocket change from my car to buy a 20 oz Coca-cola. I am now officially broke until my next disability check arrives. Being penniless is an awkward feeling that I am not used to. I feel totally helpless with so little money to my name.

Monday mornings are a hard time for me as they start selling beer again at 2am. I thought of George as I stood in the back of that store surveying the beer offerings like one of Pavlov’s salivating dogs. I kept expecting him to walk in any moment to buy a case or a twelve pack and offer me one. It was good thing I only had a dollar and 35 cents in change in my pocket. That twelve pack of Steel Reserve high gravity lager just looked too tempting and I would have loved to have gotten completely sloshed drinking twelve of those high gravity brews. Luckily, I didn’t have the required $5.99 plus tax to buy it which was my saving grace. Too bad they don’t have after midnight A.A. meetings. A meeting would have been an oasis in the night.

I left the convenience store as I drank my Coca-cola on this cool morning. I walked up in front of that grand old abandoned cotton mill and sat down upon a bench in the little park out front. I put on the headphones of my little Sony radio and tuned the digital tuner to that station out of New Orleans. Art Bell was pontificating overly seriously about imagined ghosts and ghastlies that go boo in the night.

A lone police car came slowly driving by giving me a good and hard look. 2:30 am in the morning is an unusual time for a citizen to be up and out listening to a radio and drinking a Coca-cola in that little park in the dark. I know I looked suspicious. I sighed relieved when I checked my back pocket for my wallet finding it there fearing the officer would check my I.D. We live in such an overly sensitive and alert world after 9/11; very much akin to the government police state described in Orwell’s 1984.

I finally yawned sleepily as I pulled on my backpack after putting my little radio away. I trudged back down the sidewalk to complete the mile before reaching home. I locked my backdoor and crawled into the bed only to find myself once again staring at the ceiling in the dark, sleepless. Disgusted with myself, I once again turned on my bedside lamp, dressed, and sat in my den drinking hot tea and smoking cigars. Oh, how I wish I could find my oasis in the night; my own little secret place to crawl into, comforted, to go to sleep. Reality thought otherwise.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Contrails in the Sky

My radio is softly playing in the background. A hot kettle of water just got finished whistling loudly at a boil and I added a tea bag and set my timer for ten minutes. Maggie is lying on the floor after going outside for a bathroom break and is crunching on a pig’s ear and thoroughly enjoying the warmth of my gas heater. I have just finished washing my dishes after a breakfast of cheddar cheese grits with crumbled bacon, two bananas, and a large glass of ice cold whole milk.
We got off the phone after I talked to my father for a short while. He is just ecstatic about the new baby and is so proud. My father has his faults, but he is undeniable family man and adores his children and grandchildren.
Once again, I was up well before dawn as I completed my daily hike. The sun was just peeking over the horizon as I walked back into my neighborhood. The contrails of jets crisscrossed the sky highlighted in pink by the early morning sun. All was well in my little world.

I talked to my sister on the phone for a long time yesterday evening which is rare for me to do. We have probably talked less than three times this year.

“The baby has a full head of jet black hair and a tan,” My sister said sounding surprised.

I and my sister are fair haired, fair skinned, and freckled which explained her surprise.

“Does she cry a lot?” I asked.

“She tends to cry between 11pm and 2am,” My sister said as she laughed. “That would be just my luck as we are going to bed.”

“When do you start your oncology fellowship?” I asked.

“As soon as I get back from my five weeks of maternity leave,” She replied.

“Well, I am proud of you,” I said earnestly. “I still can’t believe I have a brother and sister that are both doctors.”

“Thank you,” She said. “Well, I better get back to tending to the baby. Dad is holding her now.”

“Let’s don’t go so long before we talk again,” I said.

“OK,” My sister replied. “I will call you again soon.”

We got off the phone after I talked to my father for a short while. He is just ecstatic about the new baby and is so proud. My father has his faults, but he is undeniable family man and adores his children and grandchildren.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Better Angels of our Nature

I ran into Rosa as I was down at the convenience store this morning. She was buying a pack of cigarettes. I spent my last two dollars in change on a small pack of cigars. It is going to be a lean rest of the month. She followed me outside and walked with me for a ways.

“What are you doing today?” She asked.

“I am supposed to be in Birmingham,” I replied. “At my sister’s house.”
“My father came over this morning to check my fridge for beer,” I then said as I grinned as we walked past the car wash.

Rosa smiled and laughed.

“You are thirty four years old,” She said. “That is just silly.”

“Why didn’t you go?”

“I had an anxiety attack,” I said. “I couldn’t deal with all the social aspects of the trip.”

Rosa put her arm in my arm as we walked.

“My father came over this morning to check my fridge for beer,” I then said as I grinned as we walked past the car wash.

Rosa smiled and laughed.

“You are thirty four years old,” She said. “That is just silly.”

“I know,” I said. “I told you he could be overbearing. He just worries about me. You saw how I was when I was drunk. It is crazy times ten.”

“Hey, we had fun,” She then exclaimed.

I didn’t say anything in return. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings about us sleeping together. It certainly wasn’t fun for me. I barely remember it.

“Come on,” Rosa said. “Let’s go get some breakfast. My treat.”

“Sounds like a wonderful idea,” I said. “I am broke after buying those cigars.”

I and Rosa walked over to a local restaurant and ate breakfast and continued our conversation. Her kindness shown towards me this morning was heartwarming. I got to experience the better angels of our nature.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Over Medicated?

I and my father sat over at Rodger’s Barbecue eating lunch today. I ordered the super burger and fries and my father got the hamburger steak with a baked potato. I swear, they are going to set up a special table in the corner just for me I eat there so often lately. I and my father started to talk about my medications and the effects they’ve had upon me recently.

“I feel extremely dizzy after taking my Luvox,” I told him. “It is almost a sensation of being drunk. It makes me apprehensive about taking it. It is a disconcerting feeling.”

I agreed. Coming off my medications is a vicious cycle and I think I am cured and get on a crazy and deluded high. I think my family is trying to control me and subdue me with the many pills they try and force upon me. It takes a hospital visit to get me back on track many times.

“You look so good though and seem to be doing so much better,” He replied. “You take those medications. It is not going to kill you.”

“Someone wrote on my journal today about eating more healthily and cutting down on their medications over the years. They called them poisons,” I then said.

“What was their diagnosis?” My father asked.

“Bi-polar,” I replied.

“We are not talking about some wild mood swings here,” Dad said. “You hear and see shit and think cameras are in the walls and bugs are in your phone. Tofu and organic food ain’t gonna cure your skewed brain chemistry.”

I smiled. My father was right. I enjoyed how he facetiously said Tofu and organic food. My father can have such a wry sense of humor sometimes.

“They called them poisons, eh?” My father said as he was leaving a tip upon the table. “That sounds like you when you are not medicated. You get paranoid and think we are trying to control you.”

I agreed. Coming off my medications is a vicious cycle and I think I am cured and get on a crazy and deluded high. I think my family is trying to control me and subdue me with the many pills they try and force upon me. It takes a hospital visit to get me back on track many times.

We then stood at the register as my father was paying.

“I am going to put sixty more dollars on his tab,” Dad told the cashier as she took out the envelope and ticket to add the amount.

“Thanks,” I said. “I really enjoy getting a good cooked meal every day and some vegetables.”

“You can’t cook and do all that,” My father said as we walked out into the parking lot to our cars. “I’ll pick you up at 9am in the morning.”

“I’ll be ready to go,” I said as I watched him get in his car and drive off.

I got in my car and drove home as well.

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Kaleidoscope of Shadows

Blearily, I woke up early this morning and set out on my daily hike. Mile 4 found me walking by the all-night convenience store. I stopped and walked in to buy a drink. The cashier was busily mopping the floor and I apologized for walking on it.

“Good morning,” He grumbled as I walked by towards the cooler in the back.

A myriad of choices greeted me as I tried to decide what to drink. Milk? Gatorade? Coca-cola? I reached in and finally pulled out an ice cold Gatorade.

“Kinda quiet this morning,” I said trying to make small talk as I stepped up to the counter.

“Yeah, we don’t see much business this time of the day,” He replied nonchalantly.

A grungy looking fellow then came walking in and headed straight back for the beer cooler. The shopkeeper warily watched him as he pulled out a twelve pack of Budweiser. I had smelled alcohol when he walked by. He reeked of it. The fellow then took his place behind me in line.

“Have a good morning,” I said as the shopkeeper handed me my change and I headed out for the rest of my hike.

The shopkeeper grumbled something to the effect of, “you too.”

Mile six found me walking to a steadily falling drizzle. My hair grew wet and my pull-over grew damp. Luckily, it was very warm this morning so I didn’t have any fears of catching a cold or getting sick. I pulled my collar up close around my neck and soldiered on. I kept thinking as I walked that this would just be a minor setback when I was homeless. I have walked through much more adverse conditions than this.

Mile seven found me walking up my driveway with my legs sore and balking. The rain was now falling at a steady rate and I made it home just in time to avoid a warm and raging downpour. I stretched as I pulled off my now soaking wet pull-over and then walked into the bathroom to blow dry and comb my hair. I looked in the mirror at the many weathered lines on my face. Each line had a story to tell about the hard life I had lived. I felt so old and as if I had just arrived home from the longest journey of my life. I sighed as I turned off my bathroom light and walked into the den to sit down by my heater as Maggie jumped up into my lap.

“I love you, girl,” I said as I petted her in the quiet still of the early morning as my mind jumped around to various topics and thoughts.

I felt so old and ancient as if I could be that ageless oak stalwartly guarding my driveway in the front of my yard. I’ve seen and experienced so much in 34 years.

“I feel so damn old,” I said aloud as all my various experiences in life weighed down upon me heavily. I feel so damn old.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Family Divided

“Your sister told me she didn’t want me in the hospital room after she had her baby,” My mother said as we sat eating our fried catfish platters over at Rodger’s Barbeque this afternoon. “She said she couldn’t take me being in the room after all that.”

A tear erupted and rolled down her cheek.

“You don’t have control over other people and their emotions and feelings,” I said trying to make her feel better. “You only have control over you.”

“I don’t know why your brother and sister hate me so,” She replied. “I couldn’t help I was born with a mental illness.”

“I know,” I said as I reached out to hold her hand. “Life can be totally unfair sometimes.”

“You don’t treat me different.”

“I understand,” I replied. “Remember? I have walked a few days in your shoes so to speak.”

We quietly finished eating our catfish platters and got up to leave. My mother’s hands were shaking violently she was so shaken up by what had occurred the previous day. I don’t understand my brother and sister’s rancor and animosity towards my mother. She couldn’t help being born with a disability. You would think that them both being physicians they would show some more understanding over such matters. Nope, they continue to ostracize my mother and treat her totally different than from my father. It saddens me and makes me feel helpless as they treat me the same. Unlike my mother, I don’t let it get to me though. I am totally blasé about the whole affair and their feelings towards me. I don’t much like them as persons for the way they treat my disabled mother. Shame on them.

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Lost Opportunity…

They say life is a series of opportunities. Severe mental illness can rob you of those opportunities. Life becomes just a daily struggle to survive without forethought to the future. That’s what I am mulling over in my mind this morning.

My future was bright in my early twenties. I had a full paid scholarship to college in voice performance with a minor in piano performance. I was gifted with a silky smooth voice and perfect tone and pitch. Those college years found me withdrawing more and more from life until I spent all my time alone on dirt roads in the country drinking beer and neglecting my studies.
My father drove the two hours to my college to talk to my professors about my problems. They all agreed that something terrible had been happening to me over the previous two years. Who was once a bright, social, and earnest young college student with impeccable grades had turned into this reclusive hermit of a being wracked with paranoia and delusions.
I will never forget that day I called my father on a pay phone too afraid to use my home phone for fearing it was bugged.

“Help!” I said tersely.

“What’s wrong?” My father asked sounding confused.

“Something’s bad wrong with me,” I replied.

My father drove the two hours to my college to talk to my professors about my problems. They all agreed that something terrible had been happening to me over the previous two years. Who was once a bright, social, and earnest young college student with impeccable grades had turned into this reclusive hermit of a being wracked with paranoia and delusions.

On the upside, things did finally start to get better after years and years of trial and error and countless and numerous different medications. I found the drug Zyprexa and it changed my life. The delusions went away and the paranoia subsided. I met a woman and got married and we bought a house and a new car. I started a new career driving a big rig truck. The story was not all a bed of roses though. I experienced incredible weight gain and extreme drowsiness which was dangerous being a big rig truck driver. I had to go off the medications and things once again took a turn for the worse. I found myself homeless and divorced with my wife getting almost everything in the proceedings due to my mental illness. I was just too ill to effectively fight for my rights during the divorce.

These days I am stable on Risperdal Consta. It is an injection I get every two weeks in the muscle of my butt cheek. This gives me a steady and unrelenting dose of my primary anti-psychotic medication. This medication is not quite as effective as Zyprexa, but it does keep me stable without all the added side effects of that previous medication.

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My father called me yesterday afternoon with good news. My sister’s baby was born late yesterday afternoon without complications and weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces. They named her Kathleen. We are all so proud and happy. Yesterday was another good day.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Heart to Heart with Rosa

“Where do you see yourself twenty years from now?” Rosa asked me at lunch time today in a rare moment of introspection on our parts.

“That’s a hard question to answer,” I said. “I would like to be mentally well and to have some kids of my own and a wonderful wife. I would like to live your most average middle class existence. Average is the key.”

“Dreams are a powerful thing,” Rosa replied. “I would like to have a normal relationship with my daughter and grandkids. I would love to own a home of my own. You are lucky in that department. It must be nice having a rich father who sees about you. I didn’t even know my father until I was grown and he certainly wouldn’t have bought me a house as an adult let alone a doll as a child.”

“It has it’s ups and downs,” I said as I stared out into the parking lot watching people coming to and from the many stores. “My father can be very overbearing at times and loves to direct and run my life.”

“I don’t mean to pry, but are you having any symptoms of your schizophrenia today?” She then asked inquisitively.

“I keep hearing what sounds like a car door shutting,” I replied. “It doesn’t bother me anymore. I hear it constantly and have grown used to it.”

“That must be weird.”

“It freaked me out when I was in my early twenties and in college,” I said. “I thought I was at the end of my life and grew suicidal. I didn’t want to live crazy. Who would want to live crazy? I was extremely paranoid at the time.”

“What was your ex-wife like?” Rosa then asked me changing the subject to something she thought was less deep.

“She was a bookworm and a librarian. Our house was filled with books and book cases,” I said. “She struggled with her weight like many women. She was a very short woman and had short brown hair and green eyes. I towered over her.”

“Did you love her?”

“I loved her very much and my mental illness put her through hell.”

“You can’t help that though no more that a person with cancer can help it,” Rosa said.

“I know that sounds good, but try getting most people to believe that. It’s not a perfect world we live in,” I replied.

I and Rosa both grew quiet as we sat and enjoyed the pack of Turkish cigarettes I had bought this morning. I had spent my last five dollars after breakfast on a totally frivolous pack of tobacco, but it was so enjoyable. It’s those little pleasures in life that can make living so meaningful and worth the time. I finally pulled on my backpack and walked on home after Rosa gave me a hug goodbye. I was tired of delving into so much introspection for the day. I walked home feeling melancholy as I mulled over Rosa’s questions and my subsequent answers. It’s hard to rehash the past; hard indeed.

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Chasing Away my Demons…

I let Maggie out at 4am to a flurry of barking; hair bristling and tail erect she chases away the demons that inhabit my backyard. I only wish she could chase away the demons that inhabit my schizophrenic mind.

“Go get ‘em Maggie,” I say to egg her on, enjoying her exuberance.

I light a cigarette and sit down upon my back deck in the warm and damp early spring air as a thick fog rolls in off that grand Chattahoochee just a mile away. Maggie comes back upon the deck for a vigorous back rub and another dose of dog courage. She alights anew across the yard barking with even more vigor. I cringe to think of what my neighbors must think of our early morning forays out into the dark of the night in these early hours.

Yesterday was a grand day and one that I will cherish for a long time. I thought this morning of how succinct my daily routines must be. I have been spending a lot of time down at the shopping center where something interesting is always happening. It is much more interesting than sitting at home in front of a computer, writing. I am actually out getting up writing material instead of waiting for it to come to me. I also participated in my daily ritual of eating at Rodger’s. It was a fantastic lunch and I enjoyed the vegetables and stewed apples immensely.

This morning will once again find me spending my last ten dollars at the diner eating breakfast only to mosey on up to the shopping center to see what’s going on. Lunch will find me over at Rodger’s eating the daily special of meatloaf, my favorite meal. Hopefully, this afternoon will find me entangled in some more interesting experiences upon which I can write about on the blog. Here's to hoping it will be another grand day. Good Morning and good day.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Something’s never Change

The daring duo came barreling into the shopping center’s parking lot like a bat out of hell this afternoon. George pulled up beside me as Ferret rolled down the passenger’s side window.

“You are one brave man,” I told Ferret of his getting a ride with George.

“He owed me forty bucks,” Ferret replied. “I told him that if he would give me a ride down to Auburn then we would be even.”

“I’m a man of my word,” George said as he grinned from the driver’s side seat. “Get in.”

I warily climbed into the back seat of George’s dingy car after making sure he was sober and we were on our way.

“Where are we going?” I asked George looking over the back seat as we pulled out of the parking lot.

“My cousin’s house to take Ferret home.”

We pulled up front after a short ride to find Monte outside working on an old Buick set up on blocks in the front yard; a vintage eighties model.

“We even?” George asked as Ferret got out of the car.

“Yeah, we be straight,” Ferret replied as he bent over to shake George’s hand.

I got out and climbed into the passenger’s seat. George pulled off after waving goodbye to his cousin.

“That old crazy white man was asking about you this morning,” George said as we roared down 5th street back towards midtown.

“You mean Dan?” I asked.

“Yeah, that crazy old coot that’s always digging in the dumpsters.”

“What did he want?” I asked.

“Something about some Chef Boyardee,” He said as he chuckled. “I’m tellin’ ya that old white man be crazy. Says you give it to him every Monday. He wanted me to tell you to hold it until tomorrow. He hasn’t been able to come by.”

I laughed relieved. I thought something was bad wrong with Dan or he needed help. It was good to hear it was something so benign. Abbagirl made the suggestion that I start giving Dumpster Diving Dan the Chef Boyardee that my mother brings me every Monday and that I never eat. I was garnering quite a surplus for awhile there.

“We’re we headed now?” I asked.

“Big John’s package store,” George said with a broad grin. “It’s party time. They day’s work is done.”

“Just take me home before you start getting drunk.”

We roared across the river belching blue smoke as we pulled up into Big John’s parking lot. The parking lot was full with the cars of patrons. Big John’s is the only liquor store for miles around. I sat in the car as I watched one man come walking out with two cases of Budweiser propped upon his shoulder. George soon followed with a brown paper bag in his hand.

“What did you buy?” I asked as he climbed back into the car.

George slid a small bottle of bourbon out of the bag to show me.

“Gonna play poker over at Pookie’s house tonight and wanted something to take the edge off.”

I smiled. It made me think of Ferret saying the other day that something’s never change especially when it comes to George. George will always just be George.

George unscrewed the cap and took a stiff drink.

“Whoa man, take me home,” I exclaimed.

“Just one for the road,” George said as he cranked up his car and we were off across the river again to bring me back to my house.

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