Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Little Joys

A gentle tear rolled down my cheek as I sat on my back steps playing with Maggie.

"What are we going to do, girl?" I asked her. "Rosa hates us. My father is not speaking to me. My mother is in serious trouble by my father. It is all so screwed up. All for fourteen dollars."

Maggie cocked her head to the side seemingly saying, "Don't worry. Let's play!" She grabbed a stick in her jaws and took off across the backyard at a furious gait. I wiped away the tear and smiled. And then took off running with her. Maggie's jubilant jumps of sheer joy bringing giggles to my voice.

I know I looked crazy to all my neighbors. A grown 35 year old man playing with his dog in the back yard like a child. It felt so freeing though, and I haven't laughed so hard in years. In my last post, I spoke of little joys. Maggie was the soothing balm to ease my aching heart. All mentally ill people should be allowed to have a pet -- companions through thick and thin. Never harsh. Never judgmental. Unconditional love. A lesson my father could learn by watching me and Maggie interact.

It Just Gets Better...

On top of my recent anxiety attacks, my father attacked me over the phone saying I was drinking was why I am having the attacks. I had called to ask my father to call my brother for something to take that would calm me down -- to stop the racing heart palpitations.

"Your mother gave you fourteen more dollars! She told me!" he screamed. "You can't have any cash money! You always drink with it. Go to your mother for any problems from now on. See if she can help you which she can't. I work all the time and you are about to drive me crazy with your drinking ways."

He hung up the phone. I came in need and hung up the phone flabbergasted. I had a terrible attack -- the worst in years. Sadly, I don't know what to do. I feel so backed into a corner. I mentally can't take all this crap. He never thinks of me and how he handles things has such a profound effect upon me. It all seems to be go back to work which will be terribly hard for me or die ensconced in a form of monetary enslavement hell. My father would totally freak out to know I've had some job interviews lately. I am coming to the conclusion that he is a total control freak. It is all so totally f--ked up.

On the good news front, I did manage to walk this afternoon and that made me feel better. To get out of the house with fresh air and clear, blue skies was wonderful. The furious beating of my heart slowed and went back to normal -- my clammy feeling face and hands garnering a normal temperature. I walked deep into the mill village in search of solace. I found it in little joys. I am not going to let the completely sick relationship with my family upset me any longer. I have a choice whether to participate or not. My heart just can't take it. I apologize to belabor you that read with this junk. I just don't have anywhere else to turn to.

Little joys he said. And they were. The joy of seeing Mrs. Mary comically walking her four dogs -- the four beasts tugging and pulling on their leashes as if almost unleashed hounds. The little joy of a parade of squirrels munching acorns in a front yard. Sitting by the Methodist church and praying vehemently for help with these attacks. I could almost feel God talk to me. "Calm down," he said. "You are going to be okay. You are in my arms." It was comforting and I walked home with my little joys fresh upon my mind. You are going to be okay. You are in my arms. A much better voice than the ones I usually hear via my schizophrenia -- voices of crime and punishment.

Walking Off My Anxiety

video

Of Parks and Clerks and Cameras

Had another anxiety attack last night.  It corresponded with me drinking two regular caffeine filled cokes. Won't do that again. The attack went full force when I was at the grocery store and I left a buggy of food as I ran out and drove home panicked.  Dad bought my groceries noticing the cart, and came and sat with me until it passed.

"Dad, I need to call 911," I said pleadingly. "They will give me a shot to calm me down."

"No," he said. "You just sit with me and calm down."

Dad talked to me for what was close to hour -- the talking really helped.  He was already exhausted from working all day and I felt terrible for holding him up.  Dad had also brought my camera which was a complete surprise.  I thought the order had been canceled because the camera was on backorder. I began to "play" as soon as I got to feeling better -- this camera being very much like my old one with similar menus and buttons.

Set out for my nightly walk around 1 AM.  My favorite convenience store clerk greeting me when I walked in. It was a cold, starry night perfect for radiational cooling thus the cold, and the warmth of the convenience store was welcoming. We got on the subject of A.A. after I mentioned something about going as I stood there drinking some decaf.  I had said many of the clerk's patrons needed to go with the drunken antics he is always reveling me in.

"Does it really keep you sober?" the clerk asked me.

"You do all the hard work, but the meetings help," I replied. "I helps in that you don't feel so alone in your struggles."

"I've always wanted to go sit in one of those meetings," he then said.

"You can sit in any open meeting," I replied. "No one will say anything to you about being there."

I left my favorite clerk and headed for my favorite little park. I took a seat on a dark bench and lit a cigarette -- the smoke billowing around my face as I drank my hot decaf.  I prayed that another anxiety attack wouldn't happen.  They are such terrible ordeals to experience and are downright scary. I was so relived to be feeling better.  I sat for what seemed like hours as I watched cars parade by on the highway. Far off in the distance a train horn wailed and made me feel lonely.

There was a strange smell in the park -- a noxious smell of rotting flesh and vomit.  It made me nauseous.  Was unsure if it was my schizophrenia or not. I sat breathing through my mouth as I struggled to read an A.A. pamphlet in the dark about sponsorship I had picked up in a meeting yesterday and put in my backpack.  I sorely need a sponsor and some guidance about obtaining one.

Finally, I walked on home wishing I could sleep.  I seem to go through these spells of insomnia.  I am just exhausted after that anxiety attack last night feeling like I have been run over by a very large truck. I fear something is bad wrong with me as I feel another coming on as I write this.

Self Portrait


New Home Tour

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cured

Went for my daily walk. Was thinking about my mental illness. Maybe I am cured? I feel so well lately -- bereft of any mental ailments. A miracle from God?

Still no news from Burger King or Domino's. I am sadly desperate and will take any job that comes my way. I just want to make some money and my father continues to hold my disability money away.

Heard from Clara today. She is in the program for alcoholics down at the Columbus Rescue Mission. She called me to let me know she is okay. "It's tough," she said. "They keep you busy." I thought about staying busy myself. Staying busy is so key to staying sober.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Job Interview

Well, that was the easiest job interview I have ever been on. I was dressed to the nines with my Sunday best -- way overkill for fast food. The manager looked over my application and asked me general questions.

"When can you work?" Anytime!

"Is nights okay?" Definitely!

"Why do you want to get off disability?" To which I answered that I wanted the prestige of a job and to be self supporting.

It was all rather straightforward and thankfully, he didn't ask about my disability or my mental illness. That would have ruined any chances of me getting the job. He told me he would call me by Thursday if I got the job. Doesn't sound promising, does it? I still haven't heard from Domino's Pizza and I am to turn in my application to McDonald's tomorrow at two. Ever onwards we go. I am damned determined to get a job that's for sure. Anything. Hire me! lol

I am so excited about working though. I am tired of my father willy nilly taking away my income and I will never get my disability put in a third party without an act of Congress. I just hope that mentally I can hold up once I start. It is going to be a bumpy ride so buckle up!

Sleepless in the Valley

Couldn't sleep tonight.  Restless, I awoke at 2 AM and set out for my morning walk.  Soon, I was down at the train tracks as a big CSX freight went roaring and clamoring by.  I noticed the beauty of a street light across the way as it faded in and out between the railcars as they passed.  The aural ambiance of the train was also appealing -- sounding like a rhythmic, metal drum beat. Was also startled by a big man wearing an even bigger backpack with a big black lab dog in tow.

"Got a cigarette?" he asked. seeing me smoking.

"Sure," I said and handed him a little cigar as I shook his rough and leathery hand.

He was a traveling man dressed in a heavy green woolen coat and tattered jeans, and said he and his dog had walked all over the South.  He was in search of work, was headed for Atlanta, and was looking for the road to LaGrange, Georgia just up the highway thirty miles away.

"Take highway 29 and it will take you all the way to Atlanta through LaGrange," I told him. "It is safer than the interstate."

"Do you know of any odd jobs around here?" he then asked.

"I wish I did," I said. "I would be working one of them."

People live such strange lives.  Here I was hanging out down at the rail yard past midnight, and this strange fellow comes up to me asking for a cigarette.  He was living a life I would like to try, but I am unsure if Maggie would be so obedient on a leash. I was worried about where he would sleep for the night.

"There is a great little motel just up the road," I told him with memories of when me and my girlfriend would stay there in high school in my more sexually active days. "Twenty bucks a night."

"Thanks," he said pulling on his cigar as he spurred his dog on and walked off towards Atlanta. 

It made me feel so lonely seeing him on that empty road headed for places unknown. It would be so scary just to strike out on your wits like that.  Never knowing where you will sleep or where your next 20 bucks will come from. I admired that rough hewn looking fellow. People never cease to amaze me. There seems to be an underclass in America that is rarely seen or talked about, but they exist.

Last night my father came by to give me my medications as is typical for us.  We talked for a long time about my side effects and my schizophrenia -- my father being the consummate pharmacist and arm chair physician.

"What is your biggest side effect?" my father asked.

"Sexual dysfunction," I replied. "You know it is normal for men to relieve themselves regularly and I haven't done so for ages.  I have no desire for sex, whatsoever. I probably haven't wanted sex in a year. It used to would drive Rosa crazy. I haven't even looked at porn in forever."

"But you've done so well on these medications," he said pleading my medication's case. He fears I will quit taking them because of the side effects.  "You've done better than you have for years."

I sometimes grow aggravated with the eagerness with which my father forces these medications upon me. It is almost pathological.  I am supposed to ignore the side effects and act as if everything is hunky dory. Never rock the boat in my family.

"Compliance," I replied. "It is because you are giving them to me and I am taking them on a regular basis.  I never could take pills on a schedule."

My father was also watching the replay of the Auburn game on television.  Auburn scored and he jumped up and cheered loudly.  Football is serious business in my family. Maggie grew excited and started to jump up and down at my father's lap. I smiled at the pair.

"You've really done so well this past year," my father finally said, sitting back down. "I am so proud of you."

I beamed with pride.  There is nothing like your father heaping praise upon you.  Especially when you've lived an interesting existence such as I.  I gave dad a long hug and then walked him to the door.  He had made my night.  I resisted the urge to ask him for access to my money again fearing it would instill anger in my father.

The night ended talking to Annabel on the phone.  She has such a mid-western accent and I know I sound so Southern.  We talked about our days and she told me all about her job and what she does.  I was so excited to be able to talk to her being very lonely last night.  I really needed a friend and she was there.  I can be kind of aloof when talking on the phone, but seemed to handle last night's conversation well.  I felt so at ease with her.  Thank you, Annabel.

Today is my job interview at 9 AM.  I am already so nervous wondering what that manager of Burger King will ask me. "Mental illness?" Yes, I have a disability. "Sorry, we can't hire you. You would be liability."  I have so many scenarios swimming around in my head.  Tomorrow, I go talk to my therapist for an hour and can't wait to get to talk to her.  I have so much to share and tell.  It has been a busy week.   

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Blotto & Minty

Anchorage has a problem with chronic inebriates – and mouthwash isn’t helping any.

Diversity

I sat in the back of the room.  I watched as A.A. members slowly paraded in.  People that go to A.A. are so diverse.  You have professionals and working class people -- stay at home moms and burly construction workers.  I people watched until the meeting started.

"Everyone ready for a meeting?" rang out in the old church.

We read "How it works" and "The Twelve Traditions." Soon, the floor was opened up to speak.

"Hi, I'm Andrew and I am an alcoholic," I said. "It is a beautiful morning and a fine day for an A.A. meeting. My mother gave me eight dollars last night for A.A. meetings.  I have a strong desire to use that money to drink.  I have been in so much emotional anguish and pain lately.  I know I will destroy my mother's trust if I drink with that money.  My family knows everything I do. I just appreciate having a safe place to come to this Sunday morning and I thank you all for being here. I pass."

Several "Thanks for coming," and "Keep coming back!" rang out in the room.  It is unlike me to share.  I just felt moved to do so.  Today has been one of those days were it took every ounce of my being to avoid drinking -- that favored mouthwash just a drive away.

I came home and fixed a lunch of some ham sandwiches.  Maggie got some ham as well -- ever hungry. I then set out for my second walk of the day.  I saw my elderly friend who sits upon his porch everyday.

"Almost too cold to sit out here," he said.

I stopped and pulled off my headphones.

"It has been chilly lately," I replied.

I was hungry for conversation and we went on to talk for several minutes about Auburn football -- Auburn having won last night beating Ole' Miss. 

I finally left my friend to sit and smoke.  Down through the mill village I traversed -- the children playing bringing joy to my soul.  I saw one child swing on her swing and it made me long to have the simplicity of youth again.

I ended my journey at the convenience store spending some of my paltry income on a drink.  I sat outside above the "No Loitering" sign as I finished my drink and people watched.  A young black lady accosted me for a cigarette, but I said, "No, you are too young."  She looked all of sixteen.  I then walked on home.

Malice

I seem to have one or more anonymous yahoos who revel in tearing me down at every opportunity. It happens. I have come to the conclusion that my blog has come of age to be graced with such presences. I have never, ever read a popular or widely read blog that didn't have it's detractors. I am not saying my blog is popular because a thousand visits a day is small change in the grand scheme of things that go blog. It is telling, though, that some person feels the need to criticize my every move. God, and I thought I had no life. C'est le vie!!!!

Cold Morning Dawns

The mornings have grown so cool. This morning's walk was downright cold. Lonely, I passed by the convenience store and walked in. My favorite clerk was just preparing to get off his shift. "Crazy night," he told me. "The drunks were out in force." I chuckled as I listened to him tell the story of one drunk man who brought a case of beer to the counter, but didn't have any money. "The guy thought I would give it to him," the clerk said. "I shooed him off and put the beer back up."

I left the convenience store and walked through downtown. To my right was Tawanna's Art and Frame Shop. The very same shop I would have taken art lessons if my father would have helped me with them. I stood and looked in the window and saw a painting by Tawanna of a Chattahoochee Valley locomotive. I set a goal to be able to buy that painting after starting work.

To my left was that beautiful fountain gurgling relentlessly this cold morning. It almost seemed as if the water would freeze it being so cold. I walked over, took a seat, and smoked a cigarette. The morning's first cars and trucks busily moved around the square. I wondered if they were headed to early Sunday school. The water serenaded me as I sat there.

As I walked home, I thought about life and it's meaning. One callous commenter wrote on my blog that life's a bitch and then you die. I want to think life is far kinder than that. Such quotes are for the defeated and misled. If life truly is a bitch then I don't want to live it. My life has already been hard enough. Homelessness. Drunken debauchery. Schizophrenia. I've had my fair share of troubles. I'm ready to take a ride down easy street.

I have also been thinking earnestly about starting work. It is such a scary proposition. I tackle most things with aplomb the first few weeks, but will soon grow tired of going. I pray I won't do that if I get a job. It almost makes me afraid to even try. I also worry about having another anxiety attack at work. That would be terribly terrifying. I have had far less attacks when not drinking, though.

Mom and me had a wonderful night out to eat. We both agreed it went by too fast. We wanted to savor the moment. Mom got the baked catfish fillets and I got the baby ribeye steak cooked medium. It was truly delicious. This restaurant is in the middle of nowhere, but didn't lack in patrons. The restaurant soon filled up after mom and me arrived.

Well, let me get ready for a 10 AM A.A. meeting. I need a meeting badly having some money in my pocket. I had drinking dreams last night and woke up craving alcohol. This alcoholism is truly relentless and will probably be the death of me yet. I don't know if I can struggle and resist the urge to drink much longer.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Damn Good News

One of my biggest worries about going to A.A. was not having that dollar for the donation basket. It has kept me from going many times. My mother is going to give me a dollar a day for meetings.

"Don't spend it on mouthwash," she told me. "And how can I be sure you are not going to save it up to buy beer?"

"Mom," I said. "You are just going to have to trust me. I had five bucks and didn't spend it on beer. It's a start."

"Don't tell your father I am doing this," she then said. "He would be very, very angry at me."

"Thank you," I said holding a glossy, new one dollar bill. "You went a long way to helping me stay sober."

It will be such a relief at meeting's end to have something to contribute.

A Cut Above

Had another very small A.A. meeting. Only ten showed up. The meeting was up in Lagrange, Georgia and they are renowned for their big and boisterous meetings. I feel like I am entering A.A. at one of it's low points.

I sat and listened to a wonderful man speak. His name was Ken and he had been a lifelong alcoholic. Aren't we all?

"I was blacked out and drove through the store window. I woke up with glass everywhere and broken 12 packs of beer adorning my hood. I knew then I was in deep shit."

The room erupted in laughter. Ken went on to regale us in tales of his alcoholic exploits. This was what I needed to hear. I needed to hear hope and that a terrible alcoholic such as myself could get better and get sober. Far too often, the tales in A.A. are happy and jubilant -- people with seemingly no more problems. I know it is terrible of me, but I need to hear problems right now. I want to know I am not alone in my struggles.

"The police officer handcuffed me and said, 'Boy, you really pulled a number this time.' It was the end of my drinking career. I sobered up in jail and started to attend A.A. meetings. God saw fit to cure me of that terrible desire to drink."

I sat mesmerized as I listened. There was hope for me yet! I had never gotten in more trouble than just your average D.U.I. I had been lucky. I still had so many things. My home. My car. My cherub pup, Maggie. I was going to be okay.

After the meeting, I walked up to Ken to ask him, "Do you still desire to drink?"

"I do sometimes," he said. "Drinking has a way of sneaking up on you. That's why they say to be ever vigilant about alcohol. People, places, and things."

"Thank you," I told him. "You gave me more hope in twenty minutes than I have gotten going to hours of meetings."

He shook my hand and bid me goodbye.

I have a new lawnmower and am just thrilled. My friend, Charlie, has been cutting my grass for me and I felt terrible about it. I had a nice mower, but Rachel got it in the divorce. Dad came by today bringing the mower and a can of gas. I am going to go get busy cutting. My yard needs it!

Little Group, Big Hearted People

Last night's A.A. meeting was so small. There was only four of us. A.A. seems to be floundering these days. I know there is no shortage of alcoholics. They are just not gracing those rooms. I shared about not having any money and my father not letting me have any due to my drinking past. It was kind of humiliating.

"You'll never get better unless you can make the choice to drink or not for yourself," Sandy, a long time A.A. goer, said. "Sobriety can't be forced upon you."

"I know," I replied. "I just don't know what to do. I am trying to get a job. But I'm scared."

"It is okay to be scared," Sandy said. "Maybe that will keep you from drinking."

I did find five dollars sequestered away in my winter coat yesterday. So far, I have resisted any imbibing in mouthwash or a six pack of beer. I was telling my mother about it yesterday.

"Give me the five dollars," my mother said.

"No," I said. "I will never get better unless I can make a conscious choice not to drink. Ya'll have babied me enough."

My parents have come to my rescue far too many times and it has hurt and hindered me. I am 35 years old and am clueless about life and it's inner workings.

Today, I have a 1 PM A.A. meeting and then me and my mother are going out to eat at Barnes' restaurant at five. I look forward to spending some time with my mother and getting a good meal. They have fabulous steaks.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Woeful Writer

Talked to County mental health. The earliest they could work me in was the first part of February. That is just too long to go without money. I have an appointment for Feb. 11th to get my disability put into a third party. The catch? I have to change doctors and change service providers. I am not sure I want to leave my doctor seeing that I am stable now. Other things...

  • Submitted paperwork to run my Motor Vehicle Record for Domino's Pizza.
  • Put in application for employment at Goodwill. Goodwill tends to employ people with disabilities.
  • Job interview 9am Monday at Burger King.

I am making progress, but I still don't think I will get a job. I always remember getting hired to be much quicker. I used to could find a job in a day and did when I worked at AutoZone.

I am feeling entirely inadequate as far as my writing goes. It has been sloppy and thoughtless. I haven't put any effort into this blog lately and it is suffering. I am going to try to walk tomorrow to get up a good post -- possibly going down to the shopping center to get up material to write. I have just been so busy trying to get my life straightened out that my writings have been lacking.

Lackadaisical

The morning arrived with a smile -- the first smile I've had on my face in quite a while. There is hope for this wayward human being yet. Talked to Rosa this morning. I called her. She was distantly cold to me. My little foray into drinking a few weeks ago ruined our relationship. Talk about consequences!

Went to the local A.A. meeting last night. Carl, who has a learning disability, chaired the meeting. It was interesting to watch the old timers come to his rescue many times. It came my time to speak.

"I once had a sponsor years ago," I said. "He hurt my feelings and I never talked to him again. If I would have only listened to him it would have saved me years of hurt and pain."

I sometimes feel I am suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome from my mental illness and the drinking. I have felt crazier lately now that I have sobered up -- an unnerving feeling of losing your mind. Rash thoughts and even rasher actions.

I am really appreciating all the comments lately. It is nice and helpful to hear the advice of others. Quite frankly, I have never been good at making life choices and I feel I taking on too much with this working thing. The good thing is that I have a 9 month trial work period where I can work as much as I want and still draw my disability. So this little foray back into work will be a test -- a test that will not destroy everything.

Pipe Tobacco's advice is wise and I am taking heed. I just don't know how to go about getting my disability turned over to a third party. I am supposed to go talk to the county mental health, but they can be very lackadaisical in their response. I haven't had much luck in talking to them. I think I am going to go get a shower and go out to talk to mental health now. I am just so worried it will hurt my father's feelings -- causing him to become irate. My life is never simple.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Workin' for Work

I probably won't get a job through my efforts. I does feel damn good trying though. I feel in control and on top of things. Normally, walking into an establishment and just the simple task of asking for an application would send me running. I have managed to assuage those social fears. Here is a list of accomplishments today.

  1. Have to be back at Domino's Pizza to sign a release for them to check my Motor Vehicle Record.
  2. Have to talk to Rick at Givorn's Grocery between 3 and 4 tomorrow.
  3. Have to be at McDonald's Tuesday at 2 PM to turn in my completed application.

It is a start. I haven't worked in so long that just filling out the applications were hard. I have some serious gaps in my employment record. I just hope my higher power sees fit to bless me in this endeavor. I just feel the time is right and I no longer want to be on disability. It has been a thorn in my side for years now and I am ready to be released. I want to be able to place a dollar bill in that donation basket at A.A. so very badly.

Shaking the Family Tree

I just did something that is going to cause a shit storm in my family. I went around to every business I knew and applied for jobs. The most promising one was Domino's Pizza as a delivery driver and working at McDonald's. I am just tired of sitting at home doing nothing. I want that pride that comes from making your own money. I am tired of my father getting on to me when I spend more than fifty dollars at the grocery store or having to beg him for a carton of cigarillos. I want control of my own money and to hell with this disability malarkey. What good is it if I cannot even access it? Nothing. Hopefully, I will get some calls in the next few days. I am eager to start work -- so eager I am almost beside myself.

Shootin' the Shit

This morning found me down at the shopping center. It was cold, but with a brilliant sun. I bundled up in a jacket and found Big S sitting out front of the grocery store. Big S was wearing his overalls and a fleece jacket. Upon his head was a baseball cap which is something uncharacteristic for him.

"I'm thinking about looking for jobs," I told Big S as I sat down.

"You haven't worked in years," Big S said, surprised.

"I worked at this grocery store for a few weeks a couple of years ago," I replied.

"What brought this on?" Big S asked.

"I am tired of sitting around all day with nothing to do. I want to support myself."

Big S laughed.

"You've been brainwashed," Big S said with a chuckle. "Work isn't going to cure what ails you. You will grow tired of it quickly."

I shrugged. I know not to listen to Big S. Big S is a man who spends all his time sitting down at a shopping center wasting his time.

Soon, George came pulling up. I was overjoyed. I hadn't seen George in weeks and have sorely missed my interesting friend.

"What's up my brotha!" George exclaimed from his car sitting in the fire lane.

I walked over and got in his car.

"I was just telling Big S that I was going back to work."

George laughed.

"I heard there is good money in delivering pizzas," George said. "You have a good car."

"I just can't see to drive at night," I replied, daunted.

George went on to tell me about his days and how his mother has been doing. Mrs. Jones' spat with dementia passed and she is doing well. I was very pleased to hear that. George is still drinking lots of beer and ruining his liver.

"George, I wish you would go to A.A. with me," I said as I got up to leave.

"I've told you before that A.A. is nothing but a religious cult," George said excitedly and negatively.

I just smiled and walked off for home noticing this beautiful day -- full of cool breezes, brilliant sunshine and the fall color of leaves. I do think I am going to be okay -- that my life is going to end up well. Me and my higher power are going to work together to get my life on track. Let me get ready for my noon A.A. meeting.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Finding Friendship in A.A.

I walked into the meeting hall and took a seat. There was only me and three others. Men. I sat and read my Big Book as two men talked quietly across the room. We were waiting for the meeting to start.

"I never knew I could have a friend," one man said. "I stayed so drunk that no one wanted to be around me."

"Do you have friends now?" the other asked.

"Yeah, I have some friends in A.A.," he replied.

I closed my Big Book and just listened. I so wanted to be this man's friend. Just someone to share my days with. Good friends. Friends in A.A. The kind of friends I could take home to my parent's unlike the gang and George -- people my parents would never approve of.

"I thought when I started going to A.A. that friends would just come out of the woodwork," the man said. "It didn't happen that way. It took time and building trust. Showing to others that I was willing to work the steps and stay sober."

I, too, thought this. That when I started going, I thought I would be overrun with close A.A. friends -- us drunks sticking together. I was sorely disappointed when I realized those that had gone to these meetings for years segregated themselves from the newcomers -- a guarded and reserved distance.

"Yeah, I have some friends now," the man continued. "I have people I could go to with my life and soul. To tell all my darkest secrets and worst failings. I am lucky."

"Yes you are," I thought as I turned to the front of the meeting hall to start the meeting. They say if you put yourself in these rooms you will always hear what you need, and I did hear something I needed to hear tonight and it was before the meeting. In that simple conversation between to gruff A.A. meeting goers. Yes, I will eventually get some friends in A.A. It is going to take time to build up a report with others and to build up a trust. I am so impetuous and want it now. I WANT IT NOW! "Good things come to those that wait," I just told myself as I was writing this. Good things come to those that wait.

Crazy Thinking

I so badly want a drink today so I thought I would write it out. I want to go by the pawn shop and sell my Nintendo Gamecube for ten bucks or so. The only way I could get up some money without borrowing it from my neighbors. That ten bucks would keep me drunk for a week off of mouthwash at $2 dollars a bottle (premium) or drunk two days off of beer.

This is the craziness my mind imbues. This stinkin' thinkin' as they call it in A.A.

This is when I need a meeting most. To sit and hear others speak of their struggles with alcohol. To hear the worse case scenario stories that make mine own pale in comparison. To sit and listen of the hope and gratitude that only sobriety will bring to a drunk.

One of my biggest struggles with A.A. lately is that I don't have a dollar to put in the donation basket when it passes. All eyes are upon me as I grab that basket and send it on it's way bereft of my dollar. I have thought of getting my father to write A.A. a check and at least my own mind's worries will be assuaged -- a monthly check of daily donations.

Back to the drinking. This incredible, all encompassing urge. I know the consequences vividly -- destruction of family relationships, deterring of volunteer service, health consequences from drinking mouthwash. They are all to real, but to an alcoholic, the gains (alcohol) outweigh the negative aspects (the consequences). That blissful feeling of inebriation melting away my anxieties, my loneliness, and all that mentally ails me. I have to suffer on though without it -- to be without the elixir that fixes all that ails me. It is my cross to bear to experience life sans drink.

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable"

Excuse Me While I Sulk

I feel so horrible. I overslept and missed both my noon A.A. meeting and working at the Humane Society. I wonder if the Humane Society will want me back? I was just so tired from all that has been going on. I woke up at seven and then went back to sleep.

Last night I went and bought groceries with my dear father meeting me and writing a check. I am still without money. I only bought fifty dollars for the whole week and it is going to be lean. I am going to have to skip meals. Then, Dad and me went to Fat Albert's to buy cigarillos and to put gas in my car. We drove around afterwards as dad gave me my nightly medications and waited for them to take effect.

"Dad, do you think I am a bad person?" I asked.

"No," he said. "I just think you are misguided."

"I want so badly to be a decent man," I told him. "My heart hurts for wanting to be a good person. I don't want to die alone and it is headed that way."

"I think you need to think of others more," he told me. "You are one of the most selfish people I know. People gravitate to others they know will give of themselves."

A tear rolled down my cheek. I feel like I am such a terrible, wretched man and want to be good -- to be of service to others and to be well liked. I want people, other than homeless people and miscreants, to like me and to want to be my friend.

I also wanted my father to tell me he loves me and that everything was going to be okay. I still can be a small child about such things. I strongly believe I never actually grew up due to my mental illness and the drinking. Forever, a child trapped in the body of a man.

"How was your day?" I finally asked my father trying to think of others and to show interest in others.

"Same ole. Same ole," he said, not revealing much.

I am in awe of my father. What he does. How busy his days are. How despite all odds he keeps his life and family together. It makes me feel less than adequate. I watch my father's busy days and it makes me feel so tired just from looking. I don't see how he does it and he seems happy! There is just something constitutionally wrong with me. I feel like such a failure not even being able to do half what my father does and I am half his age! Excuse me while I go and sulk and feel sorry for myself for a few hours.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

While You Were Away...

I am kind of struggling with writing these past few days -- my mental illness playing tricks with me. My fingers feel as lead and typing is hard. The whole process of getting words into this computer has proved daunting. C'est lie vie as they say.

I have really surprised myself these past two days with really going beyond my comfort zone. I went to having nothing to do, to having full days. I want this to be a test for going back to work. I can't stay on disability for the rest of my life. I long to be a self supporting man and to be able to come home after a day's work feeling pleased with myself. Working is not like riding a bike. You lose skills over time and just a basic a skill as getting up to be somewhere at a prescribed time can be hard. I struggled this morning getting up to be at the Humane Society by eight. Eye lids heavy. Yawning furiously. I jumped in the shower and made my way to "work." It felt so good with something to do -- to have a purpose to life. Something I have sorely missed these past few years.

I was once under the delusion that I could make a living writing. That my blog would be discovered and lauded by publishing houses. Sadly, the stories of George and the gang dried up. Which I considered my best and most interesting writing. Life, just like the weather, changes. Old avenues are closed and new avenues are opened. I am going to be concentrating on real life and not just this blog now. I want to get married and possibly have some kids. I want to go on vacations to be remembered. I want Maggie to greet me after a hard day of work and to know I am supporting me and my cherub pup. I have so many wants and desires. I don't just want to be the mentally ill blogging dude.

I have also really gone out on a limb as far as my social anxiety is concerned. I have really surprised myself. Strangers. Volunteer Directors. Receptionists. Strange A.A. meetings. It has all gone to push my limits, but it is invigorating as well. To not be afraid anymore of everything and anything. To know I have the strength in myself to overcome my deepest fears. My own self would be shuddering in fear at my new persona.

Well, I have another A.A. meeting to attend tonight. I have actually felt so well these past few days that I am getting brave enough to look for jobs. Little signs in doors saying "Help Wanted" are so tempting! Let me get ready for A.A. and I appreciate those of you reading. Take Care!!!!

Busy Morning

I heard the dogs barking in the kennels as I pulled up, got out of my car, and walked in. It was such a wonderful, jubilant sound -- the sound of unbridled joy. The dogs were so glad for the humans to return another morning. I busied myself cleaning kennels -- your standard scooping up dog poop and then spraying them down after putting the dogs on the outside. It is a messy, thankless job, but one for which I felt I was making a difference. They put more responsibility on me this morning asking me to do one of the most physically arduous jobs, kennel cleaning.

I left the Humane Society and drove up to the hospital. A long ago girlfriend and her mother were gracing the front desk.

"Hey," I said and waved shyly. I hadn't seen them in years. My homelessness, mental illness, and the drinking has really taken a toll on my looks over the years and they didn't recognize me.

"Who do I talk to to volunteer?" I then asked, getting up a moment of social courage.

Mrs. Sarah walked me around to the directors office.

"Come in and have a seat!" The director said excitedly.

I took a seat and cautiously crossed my arms. I was so nervous -- my social anxieties welling over.

"What makes you want to volunteer?" The director asked.

"I want to help people and give some purpose to my days," I squeaked. "I already volunteer out at the Humane Society."

"Oh, I just love dogs," the director squealed. I had broken the ice.

"When can you start?" she then asked.

"ASAP," I replied.

She signed me up for orientation on Friday. I told her I have schizophrenia and she said she needs my doctor to call her to let her know I can volunteer successfully. I told her I would get him on to it. I really don't know what I am doing. I do know I am tired of spending endless days with nothing to do. Long, idle days of sitting down at the shopping center watching life pass me by. I am hoping to help others and in turn, help myself. I hope I am not biting off more than I can chew.

I am now headed for a noon time A.A. meeting in Lagrange, Georgia. It's a long drive and one I don't relish. It is better than sitting at home alone, though. I hope I can get up the courage to walk into a strange room full of strange people. I am really pushing my boundaries these days!!!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Meandering Lives

There is a beauty to feeling well. No one knows this more than someone with a debilitating mental illness. I felt so lonely today, but so well. I managed to start with the Humane Society. I can be impetuous and implored the woman out there to put me to work. I was lonely and had nothing to do and it was raining. I spent all afternoon bleaching and cleaning the dog's water and food dishes. I washed and dried them and then stacked them up to air dry. I am starting to realize that this volunteer position is not going to be as involved as I had hoped. There is only so much to do. I am going to do what I can and will be out there at eight bright and early to give them a hand with the litter boxes and such.

I look forward to reading my favorite blogs. To see what Cheryl, Annabel, and other's days have been like. I thank you for commenting and some of you are making a big difference in the life of a lonely guy in Alabama. Thank you.

Humane Origins

With great trepidation, I drove the long drive to the humane society. I parked and walked inside to be greeted by a young lady,

"Can I help you?" She asked with a grin.

"I am looking to volunteer," I said, shyly averting eye contact.

"Honey, where have you been?" She said, smiling warmly and welcoming me inside. "When can you start?"

"When do you need me?" I asked.

"How 'bout we see you here at eight in the morning?" She asked. "Eight okay?"

"Sounds great to me," I said, walking out with a renewed vigor in my steps.

I heard the lady and the man who worked there talk excitedly amongst themselves about having a volunteer.

I am so excited! I haven't been this excited in years! I felt almost like I got a job! I am going to bust my butt tomorrow to give them a helping hand. Thank you to the commenter who suggested this! It is going to be so nice to have a reason to get up in the morning and to have some purpose to my days.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I Could be in Jail...

"Can't come over again today," Rosa said over the phone. "You know who is coming over."

"Okay," I said as I began to sulk knowing she meant her daughter and granddaughter.

I hung up the phone and ambled into the kitchen to get some breakfast started. I so wanted Rosa to come and I was so disappointed. I am suffering from a terrible rash of loneliness lately.

After breakfast, which was some eggs and toast, I gathered myself after a shower and set out for my morning walk. Through my neighborhood I traversed noticing the beauty all around me. My father keeps telling me I should be in prison for drinking and driving and I have been giving myself pep talks about how nice it is to not to be in prison.

"You wouldn't have enjoyed that squirrel in the tree or this cigarillo," I told myself as I walked. "You would be stuck in a cell all day with nothing to do, but waste time."

These pep talks seem to help and I was soon walking with a renewed vigor in my steps. My elderly black friend was sitting back out on his porch this morning. When he spoke to me, I stopped to talk.

"Cool morning," he said.

"It got down to 45 degrees last night," I replied. "Autumn is here."

"What's your name?" He asked.

"Andrew," I replied. And I said my last name.

"Do you walk every morning?"

"Yeah," I replied. "Most mornings. I walk to pass the time."

"Most people walk for exercise," he said as he smiled.

"I can be kind of odd," I replied, smiling back.

"Well, you have a nice morning," he said, lighting up a cigar.

I bid him farewell and continued on with my walk. Down into downtown I traversed -- the old part of downtown now almost dead. It the center of the square is a fountain and I walked across and sat next to it listening to the water gurgle. It seemed to be the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in the middle of this dead downtown. One lone bastion of beauty amid floundering commerciality.

"Your lucky," I told myself. "Lucky to be experiencing these things. Lucky to be alive and healthy. You have a beautiful day ahead of you."

I felt so much better as I walked home eager to write about this morning. So glad to talk to my elderly friend. So glad to experience the water fountain. So glad to have my cigarillos to smoke. So glad to not be in jail as my father keeps reminding me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bon Voyage Clara

My neighbor, Joyce, is to thank for getting Clara down to the Rescue Mission in Columbus, Georgia. A good Samaritan from her church agreed to take her.

"She's living on the loading dock behind the dollar store," I told Joyce.

"How can someone live like that?" Joyce asked.

"She needs some help sobering up and getting a ride to Columbus to stay at the Mission."

"Let me make some calls," Joyce said, hurrying inside to use the phone.

I busied myself cutting up a large pecan tree limb in Joyce's backyard only to return to Joyce saying that a person has agreed to take her this afternoon. I walked down with the details of the meeting to tell Clara.

"Somebody's gonna take me, just like that?" Clara asked with doe eyes.

"Get your stuff together. They are picking you up in front of the Korean restaurant at 5 PM. Time to make the evening influx at the Mission."

"Thank you," Clara told me with beer breath as she came over to give me a hug.

"I won't forget you. You take care of yourself," I replied with an air of sadness and also joy.

I solemnly walked up the road wondering what was in store for Clara. She was the only homeless person I knew of in the Valley. I almost envied her to be setting out for a new life and new environs. I crave the structure such an environment would bring -- my life being so willy nilly and haphazard. I will go to sleep tonight feeling resigned that what Clara did was a good thing and that she is in safe hands. Another chapter in the lives of "the gang" draws to a close.

An Adoption Looms?

Rosa is having a helluva time with her daughter. I don't offer advice preferring to stay out of it. As you know, I am terrible with familial relationships. Rosa's daughter is now wanting Rosa to take custody of her granddaughter. Momma Mia! Needless to say, I haven't seen much of Rosa lately and I miss her, but try to be supportive despite my own disgruntled misgivings about never seeing her.

I continue to walk just to pass the time. I set out through my neighborhood to a beautiful fall day. The winds were calm and cool and the sun shone down brilliantly. As I passed one house not far from my home, an elderly black man waved and asked me how I was doing.

"Fine. Thank you. And you?" was my reply.

"Oh, my arthritis doesn't allow me to get out like I want to."

"I hope what ails you goes away," I said kindly as I kept walking.

What I really wanted to do was to take a seat on his porch and talk to him. I am suffering from a terrible loneliness, and you would think a person suffering from social anxiety would shy away from contact. I wanted to hear all about his arthritis and how his family was doing. I have never been this thirsty for human contact always preferring to be a loner. I don't know what has gotten into me.

I walked by the A.A. meeting hall and sat down outside. No meeting today. I will have to make do with an online meeting. I lit a cigarette as I sat and thought of all the generous and caring people that have wandered through those rooms, greeting each other, and telling each other to keep coming back. I longed so heartfelt for a meeting. I am so terribly lonely it is painful.

Left the A.A. meeting hall to wander through downtown. Saw Dexter determined to get a free meal at the cafe. I smiled.

"Five bucks?" he asked as I walked by.

"Dexter, my pockets are bare," I replied pulling one empty pocket out to show him.

I would have done anything for ten dollars to sit and eat with him. This being broke is for the birds! I left Dexter to continue to plot and to walk on home. As I walked through the mill village, children laughed and played so carelessly as if they didn't have a care in the world. I longed to be a child again with my stalwart father watching over me and my doting mother worried about what I was going to wear or how I would spend my day. I thought I would never say that about my childhood -- the wanting to go back. The children all seemed so happy and that is not something I have been in a very long time.

Bodily Deformity

My body feels deformed from all the fear and anxiety from the past few days. Sat down at the shopping center this morning after a long and very cool walk. Rosa and me never got Clara down to the Rescue Mission yesterday and she was sitting down there drinking her beer and looking casual. If a homeless person can look such a way. We talked about what it was going to be like.

"I've done some reading," I told her. "On Rescue Missions and such."

"What do you think?" Clara asked.

"It is not going to be easy," I told her. "You are going to have to give up your way of life to live theirs."

"Don't tell me that!" Clara scoffed. "I won't go."

"I just don't want to bullshit you and make you think it is going to be a walk in the park."

"I don't know any other way," Clara said looking worried.

"I think it will be good for you -- to live a life where you have to go to A.A. and help others."

"I am still going to try it," Clara said, determined.

"Good," I said and gave her a hug of support.

I am going to be sad to see her go. I know that is selfish of me, but she so reminds me of myself and how I was when I was homeless. Her determination. Her drinking. It is all uncannily alike me when I was without a home.

Yesterday afternoon was spent trying to stay busy. I walked for two hours until my legs grew so sore I couldn't walk any longer. I walked through the quaint little mill villages surrounding the elementary school. It was comforting to see all the children out and playing and made me feel not so lonely. I struggled with making eye contact though with the young black men listlessly walking around those neighborhoods.

The evening ended with A.A. Our local A.A. group is really struggling with keeping a membership.

"I sometimes wonder why I come up here and open this meeting hall and make coffee," an old timer said. "It is sometimes just me and Mrs. Mary sitting here."

I spoke up.

"I've had a hell of a time lately and I knew I had a safe place to go tonight," I said. "It was so comforting to drive up and see the meeting hall's lights on and people sitting inside. You are helping alcoholics like me stay sober by going through that effort."

The chairperson thanked me for speaking and told me to keep coming back. I told him thanks for being there.

The day ended with my father giving me my medications. I was so overjoyed to see him. I gave him a big hug and welcomed him into my house. Annabel's words to appreciate what my father does echoed throughout my mind as I welcomed him in.

"You had to go to a funeral today and make a speech, see about your business, and yet you still come and make sure I am taking my medications and to see I am okay. Thank you."

"I love you," My father said. "I just want you okay. I know you get lonely stuck in this house all day. Just think. Just be glad you are not in prison for drinking and driving, and have a safe place to come to."

"Yes," I said. "I appreciate it today. I just hope I will appreciate it tomorrow. My memory is not too great."

I had a broken sleep last night despite being so tired. My father's words echoed throughout my head about him telling me to appreciate what I have. I can be so impetuous and always thinking the grass is greener on the other side. I finally went to sleep comforted and calm and I hope today follows suit.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hope You Come Back, Pam!

I've been reading Pam's blog for a long time. She has a very debilitating case of schizophrenia. More so than mine. She quit writing a long time ago and I surmise she is in the hospital. I've been there before, but mostly my stays were but for a week. Time to get eating right again. Get life back on schedule. And time to sort out my medications.

I tried commenting on her blog, but my comments caused her to become paranoid and she banned me. I understand completely. I know from a first hand experience how difficult it can be dealing with a schizophrenic or mentally ill writer and blogger. I realize some of my recent postings have been hard to read and not the feel good blogs of my old self. You are getting to see all of me. Warts and all. And I always appreciated that about Pam's writings. She wrote about her paranoia's -- her self defamation her illness caused -- the turmoil it put her through. Hope you come back soon, Pam!

Just Writing my Thoughts

Been reading all morning stories and experiences in Rescue Missions. I want to know exactly what Clara is getting involved in. I also long to go myself. To be around others and to have some purpose to life -- to have someone plan out my haphazard days and tell me this is what you need to do to get better. I want direction. I also crave human contact the most -- any contact, even the negative experiences of the homeless would be nice -- and Rosa has been busy with her daughter and grandchild much of the time lately. I spend much of my time alone. I can see why, Kevin "The Homeless Guy" Barbieux, gave up his home to be homeless again. You have more direction and purpose to life -- the will to survive spurs you on and keeps you busy. You are also surrounded by people in an urban homeless setting -- the homed life getting so lonely and you are stuck in your little box to wile away your time.

I really wish we had as vibrant an A.A. group as the Lagrange group up the road. The Lagrange group has meetings three times a day. We are lucky to have one a day here. I would get active in them and try to do something positive. I cannot afford to drive to Lagrange which is thirty minutes away everyday. It can be a long day waiting for an A.A. meeting and the human contact I so crave -- the human camaraderie of a singular purpose and cause.

I've thought of volunteering. The only real volunteering resource is our local hospital being a very small town. I am worried extensive background checks will rule me out since I have a mental illness. I guess I could go try. I worry I won't stick to it and will grow tired of it in a few weeks since I am not being paid. I am not the most responsible of persons to be honest. I don't won't to waste people's time. I worry I will fail.

I try to walk all day in my house to pass the time. I pace back and forth between rooms as I talk to myself and ruminate over wants and desires -- talk radio constantly being on for comfort. I tried walking this morning and just got tired and wanted to search for things about Rescue Missions. I can't help but romanticize the experiences these men and women go through on the fringes of society. Their hard lives seem so real and mine so fake and vacuous.

I wish I could watch TV to pass the time. I gave up on television years ago not being able to concentrate on it very long. I can't even sit down and watch The Weather Channel any more.

I could concentrate on the blog more, but I write about real life and am not sure how interested in fiction my readers would be. It is hard enough to write about real life in an interesting way and that is happening to me. I would think coming up with a new fictionalized story everyday would prove hard.

I guess I just want some peace of mind mentally. Writing is so cathartic for me. Peace to be okay with myself and peace to sit alone quietly without something to occupy my mind constantly. I am just a bundle of agitated nerves all the time as if I am about to jump out of my skin. I am my own worst enemy.

A Kinder Happenstance

My father was much kinder to me last night. He was worried that I had another terrible panic attack and acted concerned. I was really amiss and couldn't even get it together to get dressed last night. Dad found me laying in the bed after letting himself in. I had paced my floors for hours trying to "walk off" a panic attack. I was exhausted. I was so paranoid that I thought my neighbors were watching me and that they had called the police because of my strange behavior. This only exacerbated my attack.

"Dad, I can't take all this strife in my life," I told him with a tear in my eye. "It makes me sick. Deathly sick."

"I know, son," he said, patting me on the leg. "We are just going to stay calm. I am not going to start anything tonight."

We drove over to Fat Albert's convenience store, and dad went inside and bought me some cigarettes and a 12-pack of diet cokes. I was so pleased to get them, not having anything to drink in my house and I hate just water. I was not dressed to go inside as well and stood outside by the car to the glaring eyes of the patrons brought on by my paranoia. "Doesn't he look odd?" I could hear their voices saying.

"I love you," I told him on the drive home. I burst out crying, sobbing like a small child. "I really do."

"I love you, too," he replied and it made me feel better. I wiped the tears from my eyes and my father told me he was always going to make sure I have a home and a life. He told me that he was always going to love me and that's what families do.

I really do love my father and don't want to be at arms with him all the time. I wish I was like my brother and so independent where we could have a different relationship. This schizophrenia is for the birds! I hate having a mental illness. I hate being dependent upon someone else.

Rosa is going to put some gas in my car for us to get Clara down to Columbus and the Rescue Mission this afternoon. That will be something interesting to write about. I am scared I will have another panic attack so I told Rosa she has to drive. I feel really weak today. Very weak, as if I have a fever.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Positive Thoughts for Thursday

  1. I am going to A.A. tonight and that should help my spirits.
  2. I still have a home and it is clean.
  3. I still have a car.
  4. I still have Rosa and Maggie (almost as important as any!)
  5. I still have an internet connection and my prized computers.
  6. I have some smokes and cokes!

It could be a lot worse!!!!!

Past Mistake Revisited

I long ago quit writing negatively about my and my father's relationship because it seems like whining and it takes over my blog.  I realize this stuff seems almost incredulous for my readers and many will quit reading and commenting.   I made the mistake of doing this whining recently thus starting the volley of posts you got the past few days.   I get comments like "he is your savior" and "without him you would be in the mental hospital, jail, or worse."  Those statements could be true, but I doubt it.  Long ago, my father was appointed the "representative payee" for my disability money because it was deemed by my doctors and family that I was so mentally disabled that I couldn't handle my finances.  Lately,  my father saw signs that I had been dabbling in drink and tightly closed the purse strings under the guise that I was spending too much so I must be drinking again.  It has happened before so it is not surprising to me.  Under his new regimen, I am only allowed $85 dollars a week and he must supervise these purchases to make sure I am not spending the money on beer.  I personally feel I earned the money and should spend it like I deem fit -- the money being based on the amount of taxes I paid in over the years when I worked which is about a $1000 dollars a month.  Also under this regime, I am not allowed any spending money or money for my pocket.  So I revolt and it causes a rift and shit storm within the family. I am to go tonight to buy groceries, cigarettes, and gasoline for my car with my father supervising and writing the check.   My father will tell me constantly how lucky I am to have him and how fortunate I am that he can work me into his busy schedule.  It is quite frankly, humiliating. 

I have actually had a decent day other than another terrible panic attack.  I almost called 911, but tried some breathing exercises someone had posted in my comments.  I got to feeling better within 15 minutes of breathing slowly and deeply.  See how this all correlates?   I cannot take too much social strife and struggle within my life. I realize a lot of you are reading in between the lines so hopefully, this will clear some things up.  I promise the writing about it stops after this post and we will get back to more normal postings -- the posts I like to write about like walking to the park and my interactions with the gang.  Sorry for the interruption. 

Things look up after a night of sleep...

Feeling better today. I took a long walk this morning just to clear my head. It didn't help the weather was drab and overcast, but it did feel better to get out of the house. I was supposed to meet my father last night to buy cigarettes, cokes, and put gas in my car. I had a panic attack and told him not to worry about it. He said I would just have to make do without cigarettes then. "No smokes as your not getting your mother involved in this," were his words. He came over to give me my medications, but wasn't speaking to me so I took them and then went and lay in the bed. I feel like I am having a heart attack when those panic attacks hit. Dad acted like I was just putting on a show for attention. I was really sick.

Saw Clara this morning and she gave me some hope that things do get better.

"Take me to Columbus today," she said.

"I can't," I replied. "I don't have any gas in my car."

"Do you know what the mission is going to be like?" she then asked.

"You will have to work in their thrift shop to pay your way and possibly work in the kitchen," I told her. "You will also have to attend a sermon daily. It is faith based. They all are."

Clara scowled a little bit and told me she wanted to go anyway.

"I'll take you when I get some gas," I replied. "You just hang in there."

I am just glad she is willing to go, and to try and get some help. I hope they will help her sober up and instill a work ethic into her. It certainly can't hurt to try and she has been looking really threadbare lately -- the homelessness really taking a toll. Each day, a little bit of her humanity slips away it seems to me.

It is going to be tough without cigarettes today. Probably one of my toughest days in years. That is one thing I am hopelessly addicted too. I am just determined to not to have to ask my father for any money. My groceries are running low as well. Two cans of Chef-boy-ar-dee lasagna being my last two canned items and some cheese and crackers. All I have is water to drink. The next few days will certainly test my mettle and prove interesting.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wishy Washy

I'm scared.  Scared of where I will sleep.  Scared of the police.  Scared Maggie will be upset, and Rosa is already irate with me.  I just can't do it -- to live homeless.  I had everything prepared and my sleeping bag in my car -- a box of food in my passenger's seat.  It was going to be a protest, but I chickened out.  I just want Rosa to come over and hold me till I feel better.  I want her calm and comforting words to envelope me. I want to sleep in my own bed tonight.  I feel so unstable and wasted right now.  I really can't take a lot of bullshit going on in my life.

I am going to try and get going tomorrow to look for a job.  I am scared there as well as I have a huge gap in my work history these past few years.  I have found that honesty is the best policy and will show that I have been on disability.   I've got to find some kind of middle ground -- a truce in this parry that happens often with my father.  I just don't write about it, but it blew to a head this weekend.  It is humiliating to have to ask for money like I am a child. 

I guess I will just try to work.  I have nine months to see if I can make it.  I realize my schizophrenia has really been showing on my blog these few days.  I usually try to hide it, but it can get out of control -- the impulsiveness, the impetuousness,  being rash in my thinking.  It makes me do stupid things and I have probably killed this blog because of it.  It has happened before when people grow tired of me and my antics.  There are just some things that are best not said or written in polite company and I have belabored my readership with a bunch of personal junk. 

I once told my father about my drinking...

What if you found something that made you supremely happy.  What would happen if no one wanted you to have it?  Would you take it?  Would you do anything to get it? Would you do anything for that moment of happiness?  I bet you would.

That is how I feel about being in control of my finances.  Being able to buy me the joy that a pack of cigars and some cokes will bring me.  It is like someone has taken away my manhood. 

Lunchtime Downtown

My lunchtime journey found me walking through downtown. Trying to appreciate the small things in life. Clara walked along beside me asking me questions.

"You seem determined and fierce today," she said.

"I've got a lot on my mind," was my reply as I steadily walked. "I'm dreamin' up grand plans."

"Like what?"

"I am going to sell everything I own and strike out for newer pastures," I said.

"Like a road trip?"

"Yeah, like a road trip."

"Where are you headed?"

"Right here to live in my car," I replied.

"Your fucking nuts!" Clara exclaimed matching my brisk pace.

"It won't be the first nor last time someone has called me that."

"So ya gonna be homeless?"

"Anything is better than what I have now. I don't want that house. I knew there would be a high price to pay to keep it. I didn't realize how high."

Clara grew worried about me as we sat down in the park.

"So your just gonna be homeless like me? Just like that?"

"Yeap," I said as I stifled back a tear, fiercely determined. "It will be my penance to pay."

I had been thinking about it all morning. I realized it was the only way I could reach my father. Then he would maybe see that I was determined not to live the life I was living. And he would do something about it. I don't want to live the next few years of my life with every penny controlled and my every action watched. That and they are forcing handfuls of medications down my gullet every night. I'm breaking free tonight and living in my car starting this evening. I have it all planned out. I will be homeless, but I will be free.

Where Fools Rush In...

I wrote a long diatribe about what ails me, but then deleted it and you get this far pleasanter post. I don't want to burden you all with that junk. Speaking of that crazy homeless stuff I always want to do when things get tough. I always want to run away and it is childish. I am healthy and for the most part, happy. It could be far worse and Cheryl told me to go for a long hike today and I think I shall.

"Look at the positives," Rosa told me a moment ago. "You don't have any bills hardly at all. Your car and house are paid for. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

She was right. I need to appreciate what I have and Eric was right in his comment about me being born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I just feel out of control of my finances. I had to sulk over to my father's house this morning and he begrudgingly gave me money for some cokes. I felt humiliated for having to ask for that and terrible. I keep telling myself that I am 35 years old and should have more control over my money. It makes me feel dirty and inadequate -- like a financial failure.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Scared Shitless...

That is what I told Rosa a moment ago. She's worried about and concerned what I will do next. She feels I am not ready for work. I feel like a trapped animal. I hate money and the power it wields over people. I wish I lived in a utopia where all were fairly clothed, housed, and fed. Everything has a dollar amount attached to it these days. Thoreau's Walden comes to mind as I write this -- about how a man shouldn't make a living by the sweat of his brow, unless he sweats easier than he.

I've never been without an income -- never in my life. I always worked or had disability. It is almost zero hour and the time is nigh. I set out for another adventure in the world of working. My biggest fear? I will get paranoid and have a panic attack which will just paralyze me for more than an hour. I've been homeless and nothing seems as daunting as this. I wonder how people do it day in and day out -- a life of drudgery and not being able to call their time their own -- being bought and sold like a commodity on a trading floor.

A myriad of thoughts are rifling through my head as I write this. "You can always go live homeless in Nashville if worse comes to worse," I told myself if I can't hold down a job, and, "No one goes hungry in America." It is sad that I am already thinking of last ditch efforts. I should show more confidence in myself.

I feel like such an odd soul -- the odd man out. "Normal life" is eluding and escapes me. I sometimes wish I were a simpler soul -- less complex and mentally addled -- that would be happy in a minimum wage job. The best of both worlds? That I could sit and write all day. Maybe I will try Associated Content and Helium to see if I can drum up some extra cash. I was making around $200 to $300 dollars a month with the Google Ads. Were there is a will, there is a way. I know that is a trite and often used cliche, but it works for me.

I often look back over my life as compared to my brother's and sister's and the only lasting thing I have to show for it is a sparsely read blog on the Internet. Three years of my life is plastered across the Internet for people to read. Writing is the only thing that comes natural to me, and that is easy for me to do. Everything else is a struggle as my family tries to force this square peg into the proverbial round hole. Life is tedious and a terrible struggle -- always scrambling like some idiot to put food in my belly and jumping through tons of red tape to keep my disability so I can pay my utility bills. I feel like I don't even own my life. I am just plain tired.

Workin' Man

I haven't worked for any period of time in years. It is not like riding a bike. Your skills as a worker grow rusty over the years and my skills as a diplomat and socially minded person have also degraded. I just went and applied for several jobs flipping burgers. I needed something simple and easy to handle (low stress being the key). I realized my father was going to hold that disability money over me until I get off of it in nine months (I have a nine month trial work period). Wish me luck in this endeavor and I hope to start getting some calls tomorrow. I just hope I can mentally keep it together to do this. I feel as if I am teetering over a black abyss -- a point of no return.

What I worry about most in my paranoia. Will I digress to the point where I think my coworkers are conspiring against me? Will I start to dream up grand conspiracies that has happened before with on a job? The pressure work puts upon me will only exacerbates this situation. And the Social Security administration only knows black or white. You can't just work and still draw benefits. I have often dreamed of going back to work -- grand dreams of being a man and handling my own finances. What most people take for granted can be hard for those of us with a mental illness.

Family Strife

The ongoing strife with my father over my disability benefits never ends. It literally takes the wind out of my sails.  He has tightened the noose once again saying I am spending too much. He says I must live off of $85 dollars a week using it almost like a weapon against me.  I realize I must appoint a third impartial party over it.  Social Security just makes it so hard to do.  I am just too exhausted and tired to do anything about it anyway.  Maybe I need to drive out to the mental health clinic and get the ball rolling this afternoon.  All I want to do is stay in this house and smoke one cigarette after the other.  Sorry for the lack of updates.

Monday, October 15, 2007

That Voice...

This song has reinvigorated my love for all things Joni Mitchell. She truly is talented. Joni, you have come a long way since Woodstock.


Joni Mitchell's Shine

 

A few more lesser known songs by Joni...

Joni Mitchell's Hejira

Joni Mitchell's Night Ride Home

Joni Mitchell's Two Grey Rooms

Sunday, October 14, 2007

For the Birds...

Still having computer problems.  My computer will just abruptly restart on a whim.  It is so aggravating and I don't know how many posts were started for this blog and lost.  I consider myself computer savvy and I am stumped.

I spent most of the morning down at the shopping center talking to Big S and Clara.  I had a minor slip up on the drinking front.

"One beer won't kill you," Clara told me persuasively.

"I guess one won't hurt," I replied as I drank a quart of Colt 45.

I felt like I had committed the carnal sin.  I had given in to the monster that can be my alcoholism.  It felt so wonderful though.  I needed a release and that beer brought upon me a mellow calm.

"How are you holding out?" I then asked Clara.

"I came close to calling my father last night," she said. "This homelessness is for the birds."

I wish I could offer Clara a home, but that would go over like a lead balloon with Rosa.  She already thinks we have something going on.

Did I tell you how gorgeous today is?  The sky is a beautiful blue with nary a cloud.  The temperature is just perfect -- cool and not too hot.  It almost makes me wish I were a squirrel and could enjoy this day forever. 

There is a fiasco with the camera.  There is a worldwide recall on the camera model I ordered.  My camera is currently on backorder and hopefully will be shipped soon.  Nothing was more disappointing than getting that email that my camera would not be here on time. 

Friday, October 12, 2007

Car Ride to Oppression

Stopped at Merl's Diner for breakfast this morning. It is getting to be a habit that I can't really afford. Was eating my breakfast and sipping my orange juice as I read this month's Model Railroader. Clara came walking in and took a seat at my booth. It was good to see her.

"That sleeping bag keeping you warm?" I asked.

"Almost too warm," she replied. "I started sweating last night."

It got down to 42 degrees last night -- the coldest night of this new fall. Perfect football weather for tonight I noted. I carefully looked over Clara and noticed the blue bags of skin under her eyes. She looked so tired and seemed threadbare.

"I emailed that women's shelter in Columbus and they said they have a bed available," I told her.

"I know," Clara said. "But I will give up my freedom to live there. Everyone I know lives here in the Valley and all my family is here."

"It is going to get really cold next month."

"I'll survive," she said unenthusiastically as if she wasn't sure of herself.

I ordered Clara some breakfast and we sat and talked for awhile longer. She told me tales of her childhood growing up in Birmingham, Alabama.

"I was so strange as a child," she told me with a weak smile.

"Me and you are a lot a like except for our gender differences."

Me saying that really perked Clara up and she felt she had finally found someone who understood her.

We finally finished our meals and I paid. As I was walking out the door, Clara turned to me to ask if I would give her a ride to Columbus and the Rescue Mission. And I said I would.

"Only as a last resort," Clara said with a fierce determination as she left me to walk back to the shopping center to drink beer and smoke cigarettes.

I can't say I don't blame her. Those missions are dire places to be -- full of desperate people at the end of their ropes. I wish I had a magic wand I could wave to change Clara's life, but I don't. All I can offer is a car ride to an even more oppressed life than she lives.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Cobalt Blue Skies

The day has been gorgeous with beautiful cobalt blue skies. Been outside for most of the afternoon soaking up this cool autumn air as I smoked my pipe and daydreamed of computers. It is supposed to get down to 42 degrees tonight. I feel for Clara, but she does have a toasty warm sleeping bag. She is still continuing to refuse to go sleep in a women's shelter preferring to sleep on that loading dock behind the dollar store. It also makes me long to go camping now that the weather is growing cooler at night. I dream of grand adventures of self subsistence and survival in my head -- chilly nights wrapped up in my sleeping bag going to sleep to the sound of whip-o-wills.

Been pricing computers. Dell wanted $2400 for a computer I liked without a LCD monitor. I priced the comparable parts and I will save $1000 putting the computer together myself from the ground up. I think someone had said in my comments that Dells were overpriced junk. They are certainly overpriced. I wouldn't call them junk. My father and mother said they would pay for a new computer last night so that means I don't have to go into debt to get one. This was some much needed to hear good news. I have certainly been blessed these past few years by help from my family. I am not exactly Daddy Warbucks these days. I have already emailed a list of the parts to one of my father's technicians so they can order them through his business which will save them and me even more.

Me and dad were talking last night about my sobriety and how well I have been doing. I was getting some of the positive accolades I so crave from my family and that come only rarely.

"I want to cook you a meal for staying sober this month. I am so proud of you," he told me as he hugged me. "What would you like to eat?"

"I would love your spaghetti, a salad, and some toasted barbecue bread," I replied.

"We will celebrate next weekend and you can invite some of your A.A. friends."

"Let's make it just us," I said, shyly. "I want to enjoy my meal without the anxiety that surrounds others. I appreciate the sentiment, though."

I am still waiting on my camera. The flash memory card has come and taunts me from it's svelte packaging, but I found out there was a recent worldwide recall on my camera due to light leaks in the chassis. This is causing the delay as stores struggle to restock with fixed merchandise.

Really struggling with writing creatively lately. My brain feels so slow and dumb. I hope to be over this terrible case of writer's block in a few days. I sit down to write and the words just don't flow like they normally would. Been looking at other blogs to get the inspiration to write. I long to go back to those carefree days when writing was easy for me.

I was also talking to Rosa last night about the drinking. When I grow bored, I want to drink the most. Rosa said that is when she struggles the most as well -- when she is bored and lonely. We vowed to help each other through these times and to recognize them. My natural inclination is to be aloof of my partner's needs. I've got to change that. One of the keys to staying sober for the long term is to be "in service" to others and to see about friends with similar needs. Alcoholism is such a selfish disease and we have to break from those old selfish habits. Imagine going against a lifetime's worth of learned coping skills as an alcoholic and you can imagine the daunting task of staying sober.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Venus at my Doorstep

I roll out of the bed at 5:00 a.m.  I stretch, pull on my shorts and shoes, and am soon ready for my walk.

"Can't you sleep in just this morning?" Rosa moans as I sit on the edge of the bed.

"I'll bring you some breakfast," I tell her as I walk out of the bedroom and out the front door of my house.

It is a beautiful pre-dawn morning.  I crane my neck to the sky to soak in the starlit sky.  The Big Dipper greets me as I look.  I wistfully think of all the thousands before me that saw such a view.  It all feels so timeless and ageless.  Soon, Venus, the harbinger of the sun, is climbing to the east followed by the first light of dawn.

Merl greets me with a hearty "hello" as I take a seat in her diner.  I order a ham and cheese omelet as I listen to the boisterous railroad worker's banter over their meals.  I hear the scraping of their forks across their plates and the rhythmic sound of their chewing to the radio playing in the corner.  I wonder where the rails will take them today and envy them of their jobs. I so long to be employed these days -- to have a purpose for this meandering existence.

I think about how this day is just going to be as good as I make it as I eat.  I could sit and wallow in self pity or I could tackle this day with aplomb.  Aplomb, it is I decide. I pay for my meal and leave Merl's noticing the now orange sliver on the horizon foretelling the sun is about to rise.  I breath in deeply the cool morning air and head for home.  It is going to be an exciting day waiting for my camera to arrive.  I almost can't wait.

Band of Brothers

I am suffering under a serious case of writer's block lately. The words just aren't coming easily. I guess I could just write about what's been going on. I am hoping my camera will insert some new vigor and life into this blog.

My father had a pharmacy meeting in Auburn last night. This meant mom brought my medications. I still insist I only need to take my anti-psychotic for my schizophrenia and not the two anti-depressants, the anti-obsessive compulsive medication, and the medication for mood swings. Luckily, my mother is not Nazi-like about me taking them so I slipped them into my pocket feigning I took them. I slept better last night than I have in months without all those strange chemicals coursing through the ventricles of my brain all night. I strongly feel I am over medicated and it effects my creativity and ability to enjoy life and write. The amount of peer pressure my family will exert over me about taking all these medications is extremely overbearing and oppressive. If I quit taking them then they will quit talking to me as if these medications were some kind of panacea. My family is committing an extreme disservice upon me.

Rosa slept in this morning. I got up at 5 a.m. and went for my morning walk. The stars in the sky were just beautiful so early with the big dipper high overhead. I realized I was looking at a sky similar to my ancestors millions of years ago. The stars almost seemed timeless and ageless. My neck started to hurt I spent so much time looking up this morning at all those twinkling little jewels. I was like a child filled with wonder.

Fall is on the way. We are supposed to only have highs in the seventies by this weekend, but it will be short lived. I have been doing some brainstorming on getting Clara a home before the cold weather starts. She has made some strides herself with contacting a women's shelter in Columbus, Georgia. Her biggest obstacle is that they will not allow you to drink while in their program. It will also place her in an unfamiliar city without her friends and familiar haunts as a comfort.

Swung by Merl's Diner for breakfast and got a to-go box for Rosa. I sat drinking my coffee over a ham and cheese omelet as the railroad workers laughed and talked boisterously over their breakfasts. I could hear their forks scraping across their plates and their rhythmic chewing to the songs over the radio. Uncouth and unruly are good words to describe their good hearted jibes at each other -- like a band of brothers. I wondered where the rails would take them today. I wanted to join them.

I realized this morning that I basically all alone for much of the time. Yes, I have Rosa to talk to and my family, but I can only tell them so much. I come to this blog to write more often than not fearing I would alarm those in my day to day life. It is a delicate dance, though, for fears if I reveal too much about my mental illness, I will run off my readership and sometimes I want to just pour my heart out on your proverbial sleeves. Some of you have grown to mean so much to me -- like an extended family. And just like my real family, I have to be careful what I will write and reveal.

Another long day of waiting on my camera is ahead of me. I realize I really have no life when the focal point of my being is getting a little device that captures life in digital images. I have thought of packing myself and Rosa into the car and going on a little day trip -- to the lake for a picnic, fishing, or up to Roanoke to the "meat house" as my great aunt calls it to buy some of that wonderful hoop cheese and handmade sausage. We will just have to see how the day progresses.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

When it Rains, It Pours

Well, it seems I have to buy a new computer with my good computer having finally died. I am relying on an old computer I have had since 2001 which is slow at best. The only way I can afford one is through credit with Dell. I have priced a computer that will be $75 dollars a month. I was starting this month to put $150 of my monthly income into a savings account. That money will now be diverted into buying me a new computer -- one that will last for years.

The camera never arrived much to my disappointment. I was so excited that I made myself take a nap so the time would go by faster. I haven't been this excited since last Christmas when I received my former camera which I dropped and ruined. I am not able to afford to do much shopping so this was a special treat.

I cooked a supper of chicken strips, mashed potatoes, english peas, and stewed apples for me and Rosa tonight. It was a simple meal, but was delicious. It is my dear Rosa's turn to cook supper tomorrow night. I requested her German potato salad -- one of my favorites that she cooks.

A Judicial Matter

"Bet you won't forget these papers again," the judge told me as he smiled and handed me back my proof of insurance for the date I had my little fender bender.

"No sir," I replied, grinning furiously and kissing his ass. "It was a lesson hard learned."

The judge dismissed my case and tore up the ticket, leaving me free to go. Yes, I had to go to court this morning and luckily, I was the second person called to see the judge. I was nervous because if the judge didn't dismiss my case, I would have to go to court a second time for trial and possibly pay a $750 dollar fine -- two or three year's worth of insurance premiums.

"God, you look gorgeous," Rosa told me before I left for court. I was dressed to the nines, wearing my nicest khaki slacks and a button up shirt. I even wore my expensive Cole Hahn shoes. "I could just eat you up and jump your bones."

I smiled and gave Rosa a kiss on the cheek.

"You sure you don't want me to go with you?"

"I'll be fine," I replied as I escaped out my front door to jump in my car.

I won't lie and say it wasn't nerve wracking. I had to take two of my Librium to get through this ordeal. The hardest part was the massive crowd crammed into this little municipal courtroom -- standing room only. A feeling of dread overcame me when I pulled up to the front of the courtroom and a great congregation of people had gathered. I noticed that most of these people were poor and most likely victims of racial and class profiling.

I am eagerly awaiting my camera today. My 4 gigabyte flash memory card has already arrived. They shipped it separately from the camera. It is going to be a long afternoon anxiously awaiting the UPS truck pulling in front of the house. I am ready to play with my new toy.

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Antithesis

I read a blog religiously about a young lady who lives in Austin. She's famous and will let you know about it. Her book being well received, but a tad too racy for my own tastes. It reads like a written version of HBO's Sex and the City. I see myself in her and it makes me uncomfortable when I read her blog. She is sort of my yuppie antithesis -- rich, nanny to take care of the children, pool in the backyard. I see myself in her in the way she will reveal intimate details of her life for all to read. She even writes about her self gratification sessions which makes me squirm in this computer chair. I don't find it arousing or sexy at all. I find it gross and unsettling in that she uses her real name on this journal while writing candidly about these masturbation sessions. I am learning what not to do by reading her. It makes me want to withdraw and be reserved in my writings. It has made her famous and also the brunt of many online parody journals and jokes. I wonder if she realizes that many are laughing at her and not with her. Tisk! Tisk! Yet, I still read. Maybe that is why she is so popular. I read for the way she can weave a mundane day's happenings into words. She is truly talented in that regard. I guess as with many blogs you have to take the good with the bad.

This morning found me in a local shop as I noticed Christmas decorations for sale. I smiled as I picked up some ornaments and put them in my basket to buy. For once in my life, I had a home to call my own and room for a Christmas tree. I am already putting aside some money for a wreath to adorn my door made by my father's florist. I did notice how early they start selling this Christmas stuff with it not even being Halloween yet. It kind of sullies the whole reason for the season -- that being of Christ's birth. It has become one big commercial orgy that arrives just once a year. I stepped up to the cashier to pay and she struck up a conversation.

"Real tree or fake?" she asked me.

I smiled and said, "Only real for me!" I love the way a real tree will make my house smell, but I will be vacuuming up needles for weeks after Christmas.

"This will be my son's first Christmas," she said looking wistful.

"The first Christmas is almost as special for the parents as it is for the children," I replied, grabbing my bag of toilet paper, shampoo, and Christmas ornaments.

"An early Merry Christmas to ya!" she said as I walked out the door of the establishment.

I was grinning from ear to ear as I got in my car to drive home. Christmas is always a special time for me -- a time of joy and renewal. A time when my scattered family will come together to eat wonderful food, drink spiced tea, and sit around a fire laden hearth as we open presents. It is hard to believe we're only mere months away from Christmas -- the heat of a 90 degree day making it even more unbelievable.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Two of a Mind

"If you only knew how different you are when you're sober," Rosa told me early this morning as we were walking back from Merl's Diner after eating our breakfast.

"I can't see it," I replied. "I feel the same as always."

"For one thing, you are not selfish.  You will think about others and take their feelings into consideration."

"I wish I could tell you I will stay sober just for you," I said. "But I can't. I can only stay sober for myself."

"Whatever works. Go with it," Rosa replied, looking determined.

Rosa has been very active in Narcotics Anonymous lately so I knew she would understand. We were growing apart because drinking became the focal point of my life.  Rosa being over all the time interfered with my nefarious habit.  I withdrew and encouraged her to stay home.  It has been good to get things back to normal.

I found myself wondering how long I can keep this up.  I do so well for awhile with a renewed determination.  It is so easy to slip back into my old ways, though.  Old habits die hard as they say. As we were walking up the hill by the shopping center, I fondled the little white poker chip in my pocket -- the chip upon which was written my new sobriety date. "One day at a time," I muttered to myself.  I could see Clara sitting out in front of the grocery store drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. For the first time in a long time, I didn't feel left out and didn't want to longingly join her.

"I know what you are thinking," Rosa said as she saw me looking that way. "Don't even think about it."

I smiled and grabbed her hand, and before long the shopping center was behind us -- a major hurdle had been overcome.

Lunch was just some turkey sandwiches and a couple of oranges which were sweet and delectable. We both sat quietly eating as a myriad of thoughts crossed my mind. My hands were shaking a little bit as I perched my turkey sandwich on the threshold of my lips.  Rosa noticed.

"When I went into to detox and then rehab, my hands shook for weeks," she told me knowingly.

"Do you think about using again?" I asked, peeling my orange.

"Not a day goes by that I don't think about getting high.  I wish I could tell you it gets easier."

Not very comforting words I remarked.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life struggling over drink. I have heard old timers say it does, indeed, get easier over time.  The inescapable urge to drink eventually goes away. Until then, I have to bide my time.