Thursday, January 31, 2008

Burnin' Up!

Rosa was sitting in the den watching TV with Maggie.  I swear my dog watches TV, too.  It was pouring down rain outside and I was standing at my front door as I looked out and smoked a cigarette.

"What are you doing?" Rosa asked uneasily. "And why do you have on that pullover?  It is hot in here."

"Oh, just watching the rain.  I can't watch the television," I replied. "And I am cold."

"Come here and let me feel your forehead," Rosa said.

I walked over and Rosa felt my forehead.

"Christ! You're burning up!" Rosa replied.

"I don't feel sick.  I just feel cold."

"Call your dad and ask for something to take."

"He will think I only want to get high and will ration it. It wont do any good."

My thoughts turned to that age old adage of the boy who too often cried wolf.  The only way my family will come to my aid is if I'm passed out in the floor.  I tried to explain this to Rosa.  Rosa can somewhat understand as her family has little to do with her after all her years of using and stealing from them. 

"At least, go get in the bed," Rosa told me concerned.

"I'll be fine.  I swear! I don't feel sick!" I empathically replied.

Thus goes the evening in J-ville.  A little health drama is something we never shy away from around here.  I just hope I am not crying wolf when I say I feel well.   

Feigning Obsession...

I shouldn't have written this, but will let it stand.  I realize I was being way "off the cuff" and honest.  It pays to selectively share your feelings sometimes. My attraction to this blog is an addiction, pure and simple.  I live vicariously through the words of the author.  He lives a life that I mistakenly see as grand or enviable.  To not have any responsibility.  To have plenty of Internet access that is "free."  To live on the fringe of society with a freedom to be contrary, as you have nothing to lose.  It speaks poorly of my character I realize.  I have a lot of time on my hands and fill it with little obsessions such as these.  Hopefully, that will change when I start work.  I will be too tired to care what "The Homeless Guy" is up to.     

Well, my favorite blog and homeless guy has decided to write only about pitbull attacks lately.  It has left a big gaping hole in my blog reading.  What would you all feel if I decided to only update my weather blog or only write a blog on the prevalence of drinking and driving in modern society?  Yawn!  That's how I feel about this.  Aggravated.  I grow irritable and want to lash out by writing a nasty email or comment hoping to shake him out of his current obsession.  I realize why he is doing it -- to be contrary.  He wants to be righteous and to prove others wrong.  It is maddeningly frustrating for his readership though.  Maybe this will break my obsession with his blog and homeless blogs in general.  I can only hope as I am helplessly addicted.   His crazy self-inflicted life made me smugly feel not so despondent and badly about my own topsy-turvy existence on this planet.  

Freedom!

I carefully navigated my way towards God's country.  It was a long, comforting drive as I listened to National Public Radio, drank green tea, and enjoyed a pungent cigarillo.  I realized how much I have missed this freedom -- the freedom to drive and the freedom of having a reliable car.  I vowed to never take it for granted again as I pulled back into my driveway, carefully locking my car, and putting the key in my pocket.  I stood for a moment admiring my car before heading inside. 

Now my attention turns to getting Rosa involved in this kind of freedom.  Rosa had some money come via check and we are looking for her a used car.  Something reliable.  An older model of Japanese make.  I found a late model Toyota Corolla, but it has a lot of miles.  Rosa is excited and will buy anything at this point.  I have had to temper her exuberance.  Hopefully, we will be able to find something soon.  I am afraid she is going to buy any old beater just to get on the road. 

In Fairness...

Dad came by early this morning to talk.  He went and bought me a case of green tea to drink. 

"I just worry about you," he said. "And I show it the wrong way sometimes.  I just want you to live a normal life. You can be so obsessive/compulsive."

I was sheepish.  I almost had another anxiety attack last night after all that and didn't want another to start.

"Drink this green tea," he said. "Charlie quit drinking cokes and has been drinking this green tea."

"Okay," I said. "I will give it a try."

He finally left and I felt better.  I want to go for a long ride in my car today and I think that is what I will do.  I am going to ride out in the country and enjoy it's sights and sounds.  I hope you all have a good day. 

Don't Stop the Drinks...

My worst skepticism and fears rang true this morning.  Ferret was back to his old drinking ways.  I was not surprised.  It took many tries for me to get sober.

"Don't get on to me," Ferret told me looking ashamed.

"You're an alcoholic and alcoholics drink," was my reply.

Ferret was in a good mood, though.  We both began to laugh as Big S stood up and bent over to pick something off the ground and ripped his pants. 

"That's what you call being too big for your britches," Ferret said laughing as he slapped me on my knee.

"You both shut the hell up," Big S said as he then slinked off towards home to change.

"How much have you had to drink?" I then asked Ferret.

"Two forty ounces of malt liquor," Ferret replied.

"You can always go to a meeting with me tomorrow," I told him.

"We'll see," Ferret replied. 

It it normal to have some slip ups when you try to quit drinking.  I just hope Ferret tries again tomorrow and will go to a meeting with me. I look back and shudder at that first week sober.  I thought I would go crazy wanting a beer.  I would pace the floor and talk to myself constantly.     

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Good Times!

Lately, I've done better than I ever have mentally. I feel strong and fit, virile almost.  Rosa notices it.  The gang at the shopping center notices it.  Mom notices it. 

Lately, I am taking pride in my appearance and this is something I haven't done in months.  I take a shower everyday.  I carefully blow dry and brush my hair.  My usual repertoire of old, raggedy, hole infused clothes and t-shirts has been replaced with stylish pullovers and khaki pants.  I am even wearing my new tennis shoes these days.

The littlest thing can set me back though...

"Dad, will you bring me some diet cokes from the drug store?" I asked a moment ago.

"YOU WANT MORE?  I brought you some last night!" Dad replied.

I blushed and grew quiet.  It was embarrassing to be 35 years old and having someone moderating how many cokes I am drinking.  To be berated for such a thing was humiliating. 

"People can die from drinking too much water!" he told me. "What are you doing?  Why are you drinking so many cokes?"

Quiet from me.

"I will bring you some, but something is wrong.  I wonder if you can get high off of diet cokes! You would find a way!"

I hung up the phone.  My hands were shaking.  My indomitable spirit had been squelched like the flame of a candle extinguished.  I felt like a 5 year old getting scolded for putting his hand in the cookie jar too many times.  There is just something terribly wrong with this whole scenario.  So I drank a lot of diet coke today, so what?  I won't let it get me down though.  I try not to write about these instances, but needed to vent.  My blog is my sounding board.  

Nice to Know I Have Support!

"Hell, you aren't gonna work a job.  You haven't worked in years.  If you get a job, then you will quit in three days." 

-- My dearest Dad last night when I told him I was looking. 

To be fair, Dad feels about me like I feel about Kevin, The Homeless Guy, Barbieux.  What goes around, comes around as the old saying goes.  He also told me it will be April, my birthday, before he will allow me any of my disability cash.  See why I want to work?  I don't want somebody telling me what and how much of MY money I can get.  I want to be independent. 

Can I Come In?


Spotty

2sunset asked why I am applying at so many food industry jobs.  Simply, there just aren't many jobs around here.  I also have a spotty work history and haven't really worked in years (I don't count that short stint as a clerk in the grocery store).  Places like McDonald's are more likely to hire me with such a history and having been on disability as they are desperate and always looking for help.  The McDonald's in town is perpetually hiring.  I hope to work awhile to build up some job history and a report with an employer, and then move on to a better job.  I am thinking and starting small.  I may mistakenly think such a job would be easier task wise as well.  Keep in mind I get to keep my disability for up to nine months on the ticket to work program and still work full time.  

Oh McDonald's, Where Art Thou?

Ferret dressed as best as he could out of a trash bag, and was waiting on me on the corner of Cherry Drive for me to pick him up at 11:30.  He was impressed with my car and couldn't get over the fact my parents gave it to me.

"The only thing my mother gave me was a hard time," he told me as I drove.

We went to the AA meeting which was routine and then I set out to put in applications at various places.  I hit three McDonald's, one grocery store, and the Wendy's in Lagrange.  Ferret was growing impatient with the time it took for me to fill out applications so I brought him back "home."  I am hoping to hear from at least one or two of the McDonald's.  It will be a lengthy drive, but I am willing to try anything at this point.

Ferret picked up his white chip at the meeting signifying he is going to try sobriety.  I should be a better friend, but I am very skeptical.  Getting a home should come first before getting sober like the Housing First model.  I know that sounds strange, but it is terribly hard to keep from drinking if you are an alcoholic and homeless.  You have tons of time to fill and drinking fills it and makes the hours of the day fly by.  I agreed to take Ferret with me to any meetings I attend.  We will see how tomorrow goes and if Ferret is still willing to go.   

Comfortable...


Change of Heart

"Can I go to AA with you today?" Ferret asked me a moment ago.

"I thought you said AA was nothing but a bunch of brain washed religious idiots," I replied.

"I just need a helping hand," Ferret told me. "I haven't been drinking today."

I told Ferret to meet me on the corner of Cherry Drive at 11:30 AM.  I am astounded he is going with me.  We are going to the noon meeting in Lagrange.  I am also going to get an application from the McDonald's on West Point Road in Lagrange.  It would be a lengthy drive to work, but I am open to anything.  I am hoping Ferret will fill out an application as well.  He left Kentucky Fried Chicken under good terms when he worked there. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Awesome Quote...

I saw this over at Christina's Joyful Music and just had to share it.  If only I knew this and embraced it when I was 25 or 15.

"Stay open to whatever life presents you with, because it will teach you something if you'll let it. It's about keeping an unbiased heart and mind. A lot of it is forming an unconditional friendship with yourself as you begin to see all the stuff you've been running away from."

-- Pema Chodron

To Sum Up My Blog...

“I have nothing to say and I’m saying it” — John Cage

You would think after blogging all this time I would have more important things to say.  I hate being preached to or at on things like politics or religion.  I find those two topics do more to divide people rather than bring them together.  I don't want my blog to be about two things I find unappealing for the most part.

What to write about?  I could continue to chronicle my interactions with the shopping center gang, although I fear people are growing tired of them.  Ferret and gang are like a broken record often doing the same things day in and out.  I could write about overcoming my mental illness, but it was actually rather simple.  I started to listen to my family and my doctor, and took the medications I had grown so paranoid about.  Now, I take them religiously.  I could take this blog in the direction of writing about Alcoholic's Anonymous, but I am already doing that to a certain extent.  Or I could write about all of the above as I have been doing.  We'll see.  I just feel I need to change directions or people will quit reading.  I just want this blog to convey how positive and uplifting my life has been lately, and I feel I am doing a poor job of just that with all this talk of alcoholism, homelessness, and mental illness.  

PS -  I am having Gmail issues and haven't been able to check my email in a week.  Send email, if you wish, to the address on the sidebar of this blog. 

Dreams of Work

I laid in bed for a long time last night thinking about working.  I was tabulating the amount I could make a week at minimum wage.  The money really adds up over the weeks.  I grew so excited!  I hate to keep harping on working, but I feel this is the next step for me.  That first step of independence after being dependent for years. 

My main concern with working is will I stick with it once I start.  I know myself well, and work will get routine and tiresome over time.  I have my disability to fall back on and can live on it if need be -- that is a tempting deterrence to working full time.  I used to be so conditioned to going to work and rarely missed a day.  I worked for years, drank, and still only missed a day or two.  The hardest part for me will be getting up by alarm clock and taking a shower every morning.  Perseverance!  Will I quit to just languish in my meager disability allotment?   I think often of Kevin, The Homeless Guy, Barbieux, and think we are a lot alike in this regard.  I have no doubt he has already quit his job as he hasn't written about it in weeks.  Maddeningly, he is writing a blog about Pit Bull attacks which serves no purpose other than to stir up arguments with Pit Bull owners -- so Kevin can prove he is right that Pit Bulls are dangerous.  His priorities have always been so skewed.

I still haven't heard from Circle K or McDonald's, but I applied online.  I am now thinking it would better serve myself to drive down and get an application.  There is just no substitute to putting on some nice clothes and pounding the ground for a job, visiting every place in town.  I did find a temp agency downtown and need to talk to them as well, but my social anxieties are getting in the way.  I feel I look weird and people are staring at me.  "Doesn't he look odd?  He looks mentally ill!"  I seem to believe they are thinking.     

Success is Not For Me Alone...

Had a long discussion with Ferret this morning about getting sober. 

"How did you get sober for so long?" he asked me.

"My parents helped.  They wouldn't allow me to have my disability money and that curtailed my drinking.  I am not very gregarious about making money and thus had to do without. I just couldn't drink."

"Didn't that piss you off?" Ferret asked.

"I was furious," I replied. "I felt like a small child, but I was also acting like an insolent child when I was drinking."

"I could get a home if I quit drinking," Ferret said. "I am spending a fortune on beer and wine."

We then talked about Clara and how she got sober.   Ferret wasn't too keen on the idea of staying at the Rescue Mission in Columbus.  He said he couldn't deal with all those crazy and drunk homeless men.  I laughed.  Pot calling kettle black, I thought.  

"You are going to have to go to whatever lengths it takes for your sobriety," I told him trying not to sound too preachy.

I left Ferret as he was nursing a bottle of Thunderbird wine and drove home.  Alcoholism is a vicious cycle to be caught in.  It seems the more you want to quit drinking, the more you will drink.  I don't know what the future holds for Ferret, but he managed to quit drinking and get a job before.  I hope he can do it again. 

Alcoholism is a progressive disease, as well.  They often say in AA that when you "go back out" it gets worse each time.  My parents methods were harsh, but it taught me to learn to live without drinking.  I used to would think I could never get through a day without a twelve pack of beer.  Now, I shudder at the thought of drinking one.   

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dark Clothes; Darker Hearts

Dad had been to the funeral home tonight.  A friend of the family which I only knew vaguely had passed away amid great suspicion at an early age.

"It was so sad," my father told me as he handed me my nightly Benadryl.

I sat as Dad listened to the state of the union address on the TV carefully getting each Benadryl out of their container.  I popped them into my mouth.

"I didn't just see you take all six did you?" Dad asked.

"I need it to sleep," I replied. "And you grow resistant and tolerant to them over time."

Dad laughed. 

"You and your mother," he said. "Your mother took six Xanax the other night and was so drunk her tongue sounded thick."

I laughed nervously, hoping he wouldn't get on to me.  Sometimes you just need to take something to feel better.  For me, it is to escape the world.  I will sleep like a baby after taking those pills only to wake up about 4 or 5 AM in the morning.   

Joyce has been doing strange things.  She sits out in her car in the sun for hours smoking Marlboros as she listens to the radio.  She also spent a long time trimming her shrubbery today only to not make any progress.  I am worried about her. 

Phone Tag

I hate to disappoint everyone, but my visit to Vocational Rehab. sparked another round of phone tag which is maddening for this phone phobic person.

"I'll get a case manager to call you," the receptionist said.

"But we drove all the way from the Valley!" I replied exasperated.

"Sorry sir!  We will get in touch soon."

Rosa and I went and ate lunch at the Red Lobster.  I outdid myself and got the captain's seafood platter.  Rosa helped as I couldn't eat it all.  She got Walt's favorite fried shrimp.  They were delicious.

We left there and went looking for Rosa a used car and then hit the magazine stands at Books A Million.   They didn't have much of a selection of model railroading books much to my disappointment.

It was great getting out of house and going to a different and much larger town.  There are so many things to do down in Opelika if you have money.  Luckily, I still had some of my blog advertising cash that came in the mail a few days ago.

I also managed to put in some job applications at Circle K who runs all the convenience stores around here and got an application to McDonald's.  McDonald's is hiring for their 5 AM to 1 PM time slot.  I doubt I will get a job, but I tried.        

Process...

A shower has been had.  My fine blonde/brown hair is combed and held in place with a light spray of hairspray.  I have on a comfortable pair of khaki pants and my favorite flannel shirt.  No coat.  The temperatures are supposed to get up in the sixties today.  Rosa is washing the last of the dishes in the kitchen after breakfast.  I just heard her turn the dishwasher on.  We are about to embark on our several hours journey down to Opelika, Alabama to visit vocational rehabilitation.  Am I nervous?  Hell yeah!  But I will survive.

I am terribly impatient and realize voca. rehab. is a process.  Much paperwork will need to be filled out.  Medical records expunged.  Tests taken to determine my aptitude for a job.  I will probably be assigned a case worker or possibly a social worker.  I am excited.  I am excited to be moving forward in this point in my life.  To be sober enough just to tackle this new avenue of life is a novelty to me. This time of the morning would usually find me too drunk to do anything, but sleep off a hangover.

Lunch will be at Red Lobster.  I have a gift certificate from my brother and his wife.  Those delicious garlic biscuits will be consumed along with their crisp and cold salad smothered in blue cheese dressing.  I think I will have the fried catfish fillet and a baked potato.  Rosa was heard mumbling about fried shrimp this morning.

Well, let me go read my daily AA devotional and watch The Weather Channel for a bit.  It is going to be an exciting day!     

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Got Till it's Gone...

There was a homeless man at tonight's AA meeting.  He was scared, had been drinking, and didn't know what to do.  He used his time to speak tonight to ask for help.  Several people came to his aid after the meeting.  I spared him my information about Clara and the Rescue Mission.  AA people do take care of their own. It made me think tonight how lucky I have it, even though I might bitch and moan about not having a job and financial independence.

  • I have Maggie and Rosa and they are both healthy.
  • I have my own health these past few weeks. 
  • I have a home.
  • I have plenty of food my mother buys for me.
  • I have warmth.
  • I have a very reliable car that should last me for many years.
  • I have plenty of furniture including a soft bed.
  • I have a reliable computer and steady Internet access.

There is not much more a person could ask for is there?  I should be content with what I have, but I want more for myself.  Is that bad of me?  I want independence from my parents and control of my finances.  I want a paycheck and the pride that stems from getting one.  I want to pay my own bills and know how much I spend a month.  I want to have the ability to buy things when I need them, and to not have to pester my mother and father for something as simple as Diet Cokes or smokes.

Seeing that homeless man tonight trying to better himself made me feel shameful for wanting all that.  My life has come full circle throughout the life of this blog.  From homelessness to being homed in a house of my very own!  A car!  A dog!  And the love of my life!  I should just be glad I am not back in that tent over at God's country drinking myself silly every night with no direction what-so-ever in my life.   I owe my parents a huge debt of gratitude despite all the many misgivings I have about them!  I am so ahead of the game it's not funny. 

Good Hope

Enough whining!  I am off to a 6 PM AA meeting in Lagrange, Georgia.  It is a long journey so should give me time to quietly think as I drive.  I will let you all know how the drive to vocational rehabilitation goes after lunch tomorrow.  Rosa and I are eating lunch at Red Lobster and then hitting the local bookstore for Model Railroading books and magazines as well.  I am excited to be able to take a day trip and get out of podunk for a change. 

Embarrassment

I drove all the way to Wal-Mart and the application kiosk was down -- the mouse wasn't working.  Why didn't they tell me that on the phone? Harumppff! I looked enviously at the young, teen-aged looking man gathering the carts.   I then drove all through fast food row and didn't stop for applications. Kept going.  I just wanted to come home and be quiet.  My mind is feeling really busy.   To be honest, I am sort of embarrassed at having to work at McDonald's or Wendy's.  I'm afraid I will eventually get hired.  My father is going to shit a brick if he finds out I am looking for jobs as well -- always mindful of the cost of my prescription medications and the coverage I have.

I am feeling kind of disillusioned and helpless as far as this job seeking is concerned.  I haven't worked in so long I don't even know if I could handle a job.  I feel ready for work.  I am tired of being broke all the time.  I have goals and aspirations.  Why do they make it so hard?  It makes me wonder where all these illegal's are working that are pouring over the borders.  The only jobs here are fast food, and even Burger King doesn't want me.   Sob!

Job Hunt Continues...

I am off again for the job hunt.  I called Wal-Mart and they now have a computerized application process.  I have to drive down and sit at a kiosk to fill out an application.  I am also going to break down and apply at McDonald's.  They have a big sign out front saying, "Now Hiring!"  Ideally, I would like to be the dude that gathers and returns shopping carts at Wal-Mart.  Minimum wage. No stress.  Ideal for me.  I tried to apply at Kroger but their webpage application process is slow or down.  Next: Wendy's, Krystal's, Taco Hell, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway, Captain D's, Arby's.  Do you want fries with that? LOL  I had an interview with Burger King, but wrote I had a DUI a few years ago and I think that turned the manager off. 

Well, let me get in the shower and make myself presentable incase I run into a manager.  I am determined to go back to work.  Wish me luck.

PS - I am still going to vocational rehabilitation.  I just don't want to put all my eggs in one basket.

Dressed Up with Somewhere to Go

Rosa took extra care in dressing up this morning and wanted me to notice it.  She even put on some makeup -- something she never normally wears.  I picked her up at her house after dropping her off earlier and we went for breakfast. 

"You look nice," I told her as we drove in the car.

She just smiled and reached out for my hand.  I remarked how nice it is to have someone to love.  Far too many times in my life I was alone.  Looking back on my life as an alcoholic and someone riddled with mental illness marks many years spent alone when I think about it. 

"We still going tomorrow?" Rosa asked of my journey to vocational rehabilitation.

"Around lunch time," I replied.  "I have an AA meeting at 12."

We went to Krystal's for breakfast.  I have found their sausage biscuits to be preferable to all the other fast food places.  I also got an employment application while we were there. 

"You gonna work at Krystal's?!?!" Rosa asked incredulously as we got back in my car.

I laughed and said, "I will take any old job.  I just want to work.  I want a new computer and a stereo for my car."

"I can't see you working in a fast food place," she replied.

"Beggars can't be choosers," was what I responded with.

Tonight is a 6 PM AA meeting.  I am looking forward to going.  Charlie is also grilling steaks and told me he would bring Rosa and I a plate for supper.  His steaks are the best.  He makes this special basting sauce with A-1 and butter.  I can't wait.  Well, I am off to compulsively refresh The Homeless Guy's blog waiting on an entry.  He hasn't written in almost a week.  I fear he quit his job with his first paycheck and took off to Las Vegas to live in the shelter there. 

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Charlie Brings Gifts, My Precious...

I always like it when Charlie brings my medications.  My father is in Birmingham babysitting for my sister.  Charlie brought this wall mural tonight to give to me, and Rosa helped me hang it.  I thought it looked pretty nice. 


Taking Things to Heart

At an AA meeting the other night, someone said something to me that has stuck with me for days.  "Go to any lengths for your sobriety," they said. "You would go to any lengths to get drunk and you need the same obsession and passion when staying sober and going to AA meetings." I've thought about that often in the preceding days. 

I am lazy tonight.  Rosa is over and cooking hotdogs for supper.  I want to just "veg" out and do nothing.  I want to sit in front of this computer and compulsively check The Homeless Guy's blog twenty times to only find the same post from last Monday.  It is comforting and normal. 

Go to any lengths for your sobriety. 

This is when I need to wrestle my obsessive/compulsiveness into something positive like my brother and sister did with theirs to become doctors.  To drive that long drive to Lagrange and sit an hour for a meeting even though I don't want to go.  To go without a cigarillo for an hour even though it is uncomfortable.   To deal with the social anxiety of having so many strange and unfamiliar souls around me.  I need to go to any lengths for my sobriety and that means getting off my ass and dragging it to a meeting.  It means getting a shower and shaving, and putting on some presentable clothes instead of these worn old cotton t-shirts and pull up shorts I wear around the house most days.   I've got two hours to muster up the gumption to go.  Let's hope I do something positive with this evening instead of sitting in front of this damned computer like I normally do.  

The Day the Dog Came Home...

Dearest Summer asked how Maggie came to be with me. It is an endearing tale of a forlorn dog's luck. My father would walk everyday out at the rest area on the interstate. One day, he passed by a dumpster and heard a dog whining. He looked in and a puppy was sitting in the stifling heat of July amidst the trash. Someone had thrown a puppy into that dumpster to rid themselves of her. He rescued her and brought her to me. My mother named her Maggie and she quickly warmed our hearts. Maggie was in bad shape when I got her though. She was eaten up with fleas and her fur was matted and dirty. It took a three hundred dollar veterinarian bill to whip her into shape. "That dog won the Georgia lottery when he got y'all as owners," my veterinarian would jokingly say in a heavy Southern accent to my mother one day.

Writing this makes me want to go find Maggie and love on her some. I am so blessed to have her in my life.

Mission of Mercy

Ferret asked me this morning to drive him down to Perlis truck stop for a shower.  I think the shower cost $7 dollars he said.  It was a long drive down the interstate without my radio as it says I need to enter a code to get it to work (some anti-theft bullshit).  They unhooked the battery when they changed the locks on my car.  I suspect I will have to take it to the dealership and fork out moolah to get it fixed.

Ferret looked like a new man after a shower and shave.  I dropped him off at the laundromat in town so he could launder the clothes in a big black plastic trash bag he was toting around. 

"I am still going to get a home," he told me fiercely as he got out of my car.

"Keep talking like that and you will," I replied as I bid him goodbye.

I drove off as Ferret was carrying his bag inside.  He was on his own for the rest of the day. 

I would always shower at the truck stop as well when I was homeless.  I would ride my motorcycle over from God's country, carrying a daypack of clean or almost clean clothes.  They would give you a bar of soap, wash cloth, and a drying towel.  You would have to enter the code they gave you to open the door to a small room where you would shower.  I always remember the water being very hot.  I was no stranger to truck stops being an over-the-road truck driver for almost a year.      

Friday, January 25, 2008

Of Higher Powers that Be...

Charlie had arrived just as I pulled up from my AA meeting.  He was walking in my yard talking on his cellphone.  I invited him inside as he hung up. 

"How was your meeting?" he asked as we sat down in my den.

"We talked about finding a higher power of our understanding and how important that is to getting sober," I replied.

"Oh, I don't believe in all that metaphysical shit," my friend Charlie told me as he laughed.

I smiled and chuckled as well.

"I use the AA group as a whole as my higher power," I told him. "A collective kind of God."

"Do atheists get sober?" Charlie quipped.

"They do indeed," I replied. "They even have twelve step meetings for agnostics and atheists in big cities like New York."

Charlie just adores Maggie and made a big fuss over her as his attention was swayed.  He can't get over how sociable Maggie is these days.  She was a very scary dog when I first got her.

I took my medications and was sad to see Charlie leave.  I really look up to the man.  Me and Maggie watched from the window as his Chevrolet pulled away and down the street.  It is about time for bed and Maggie is already curled up in the covers.    

Life Gets Complicated...

A check arrived in the mail.  I was just taking out my 24 empty cans of diet coke I drank today in the trash, and I checked my mailbox.  In it was an issue of Wired! magazine and a check from one of the advertising companies I used for awhile.

"GET DRUNK!"  My mind screamed.  "THAT'S A SHITLOAD OF MONEY!" My father and mother are out of town.  Charlie is bringing my medications tonight and would be clueless as to whether I had been drinking or not.  Rosa is spending the night home tonight  "YOU CAN GET DRUNK AND NO ONE WOULD KNOW!" I thought as if there would be no consequences. 

I immediately got online and started looking for a meeting.  I know that stinking thinking all too well and have dealt with it for most of my adult life. It was high time for a meeting.  This is what I found...

Lagrange Group
Self Help Harbor
909 Stonewall St.
LaGrange, GA 30240
  12 Noon
CD
8 PM
CD

Now, I can't see to drive good at night I told myself trying to talk myself out of the meeting.  It was that old stinking thinking in full effect.  Hell, I would drive an hour in the dark to get some beer when I was drinking and would be an accident waiting to happen.  I wouldn't care.  I just wanted to get drunk.

I am off to a meeting.  I have to leave the house at 7:30 PM to get there before it starts.  I'll see you all on the flip-side of this hopefully sober.

The Great Job Hunt

"You don't look too enthused," Rosa said as I walked in my door after an afternoon of job hunting.

"It's this small town," I said. "The only jobs are fast food.  McDonald's is hiring.  I wish I lived in Atlanta then I could go to temp agencies."

"Your mom came by," Rosa told me. "She brought you a new cordless phone.  I hooked it up."

I walked into my computer room and it was a nice phone.  My old phone was from the seventies and on its last leg. 

"I think I just need to stick with Vocational Rehabilitation," I told Rosa as I then stood at the fridge drinking a glass of milk.  "They will place me in a job and their jobs will be more forgiving of a person with a disability."

"Are you going to drive down there?"

"Monday," I replied. "I will drive down after the noon AA meeting in Lagrange."

"I am coming with you," Rosa told me.

I don't ever remember having such a hard time finding a job.  I used to could get hired at the first place I walked into.  Now?  They see that huge gap in my employment history and it sends up red flags.  Sadly, most people are ignorant of disability and what it entails, and think of it as being on welfare.  Disability is not welfare!

4 Wheels of Envy

It is so nice to be able to drive down to the shopping center.  A car can make me so lazy when it comes to walking.  It was quite a lengthy walk down there.

Ferret was asking me about my car this morning and it was making me uncomfortable.  I am so suspicious these days. 

"How did you get that car?" he asked.

"My parents gave it to me," I replied.

"How many miles on it?"

"92,000."

"You're are spoiled fucking rotten," Ferret said. "That car is like brand new for a Honda.  You are a daddy's boy."

"Bah!" I said as I got up to walk away.  It was time for the job hunt. 

Mom is coming by to take me to buy gas for my car.  I plan on hitting up some of the local businesses for a job.  It is what Ferret should be doing instead of berating me for my good fortune.  I am so damn tired of not having any money at all.  I've spent the last of my blog advertising cash on Diet Cokes.  I am ready to start getting a paycheck. 

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The End of an Era

I stood over at the AA meeting hall this afternoon.  There wasn't a meeting last night and I was concerned.  Rosa was sitting in my car as I studied the meeting times bulletin board.  There are only two meetings left in the Valley to go to.  It saddened me as AA was once so vibrant in town with meetings every night.  I reminded myself of that old AA saying "principles before personalities," but I fear a few stringent personalities in AA here have run everyone off.

"No more meetings?" Rosa asked as I got back in my car.

"Only on Thursday and Sunday nights," I replied.

"We can always go to NA Tuesday and Thursday nights," Rosa told me.

I grumbled something about wanting to attend AA meetings.  I really shouldn't grumble about NA.  They are a young, growing and vibrant group of people seeking sobriety.  I just never had a problem with drugs and feel like an interloper going. 

It has been so nice to have my car back.  Rosa and I were both astonished that there was no damage to my car at all.  It drives just as good as ever.  I am going to hit the ground running tomorrow and look for jobs.  It is all I have talked about today -- working a job and making money.  Rosa is growing tired of it.

"I wish someone would just give you a job so you would shut up," she told me earlier today.

I just smiled as we drove by Fat Albert's to pick up an employment application. 

Vocational No-habilitation...

My shot in the old derrière was this morning. My nurse was chatty and talkative. We talked of stolen cars and leaving purses in cars.  My injection went without incident.

I left my doctor's office and headed just up the hill to the hospital.  The receptionist was unhelpful and didn't know where we were to meet.  I headed down to the first floor and found the educational classroom.  It was empty.  I looked at my watch and it read 9:30 AM.  We were supposed to meet from 9 AM to 2 PM.  I walked down to physical therapy and they knew nothing after making some phone calls. 

I think we got the times mixed up.  Tiffany meant 9 AM to 2 AM Opelika time, which is central time.  I live in the eastern time zone.  I will drive back down before 2 my time to see if she arrived.  I really, really want to get involved in vocational rehabilitation.  Now that I've got a car, I can go back to work or drive down to Opelika for classes.  Hopefully, we just got our wires crossed.  I haven't given up hope yet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Journey to get my Car...

Mom driving me to the dealership to pick up my car.

My car safe and sound at the dealership.

My car sitting at home in my driveway.  Yay!!!!!  I thought I would never see this car again!


Joyce coming out to congratulate me on getting my car back.  She's such a sweetheart. 




Fun Times...

Ferret was in a rare good mood this morning.  He has been so dour lately.

"I am going to get a home," he fiercely told me as he sipped on a 40 ounce of malt liquor this morning. "I swear. I am."

"Good," I replied. "You can do anything if you put your mind to it."

"How did Clara get a home?" Ferret then asked.

"I got her a ride down to Columbus and she went into a program for homeless alcoholics at the Rescue Mission."

"Do they take men?"

"Yes, they have a men's program.  I almost went to join myself about a year ago when I couldn't quit drinking."

"It has been so cold lately and I feel cold all the time.  Always shivering and having to wear layers of clothes.  And I stink."

I was expecting Ferret to ask me to take him out to the truck stop for a shower, but he didn't.  You can smell him -- that acrid smell of underarm odor. It is starting to affect his ability to go into public stores and places.  He hasn't taken a bath since he became homeless. 

Dexter has been so overjoyed about having a job.  I was happy for him today.  I was asking my mother the other night if she remembers teaching him.

"Oh, Dexter was terrible," my mother said. "A terrible student.  He wouldn't sit still. They finally put him in 'special' classes for special people."

I told my mother the legend surrounding Dexter about him stealing pork chops out of someone's home.

"Did he go to jail?" Mom asked.

"Yeah," I replied. "Just for a few hours, though."

My mom just laughed.

"I shouldn't be laughing," she said snickering. "The poor boy just couldn't help it.  He is a good kid.  He just needs a helping hand."

I wanted to say Dexter was a man now.  Quite a big man.  And no longer a boy.  He will always be that little school boy to my mother though.  I wonder if she thinks the same way about me?  

Still Struggling...

Joyce is still struggling with her mental illness.  There was a knock on my door late last night.  It was Joyce.  I invited her in and we sat talking, and drinking hot, freshly brewed sweet tea. 

"My mind won't slow down," she told me. "I need to sleep."

"I do that, too," I replied. "I feel as if I am going to jump out of my skin."

"See?" Joyce said. "You understand."

"Unfortunately, I do," was my reply. 

I warmed us up a couple of apple pastries in the microwave and we sat watching The Weather Channel as we ate.  It was already well past midnight.  I noticed Joyce was chain smoking and her hands were shaking.  My heart went out to her.  She had to come home because her insurance would no longer pay.

"Why don't you just sleep over here," I said looking at my watch again.  I was terribly tired, but was trying not to be too obvious about it.

"I need to go," she said as she stood up and gave me a hug.  "I think God works in mysterious ways and he was working in my life when he made you my neighbor.  Mr. Ed is elderly and I couldn't go to him with my problems."

"Take your Xanax and you get some sleep," I replied. "It will calm your mind down."

I walked Joyce back to her house, making sure she got in safe.  I came home and crashed, sleeping until 5 AM.  My heart goes out to her.  I wish there was something more tangible I could do to help.  I now realize how helpless my ex-wife and parents felt all those years I was so mentally ill.  Mental illness is such a pernicious and nefarious disease of the mind.  Revel in your saneness to those of you who are normal.   I can't emphasize that more importantly.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wishy Washy

I was going to make this blog invite only, but sent myself an invite and went through the sign up process and it was a pain in the ole derrière.  I will keep my eyes tuned to some of my favorite forums and see if something easier is available to have a selective readership.  I was just growing paranoid with the amount of people reading with no control over it.   I share far too openly and feel I don't have a lot of self control or common sense when dealing with this aspect of my journaling.  I have been known to be wishy washy and the blog is open again for public reading.   

A Woman at it's Finest...

The first thing Joyce did when arriving home from the hospital was to go get her hair done.  That made me smile and I knew then that she was feeling better.  She has been constantly driving, though, and that worries me.  I will be sitting at this computer and will see her car drive by numerous times during the day.  I don't know what she is doing, but she stays on the road. 

Maggie is back to getting her half-a-pan of cornbread every night that Joyce cooks with her supper.  Rosa and I will be sitting in my den as we hear Joyce call Maggie.  Maggie will clamor to get outside through the dog door to greet her friend.   "Yes, you are my special pups.  Are you hungry?" will be heard through my screened porch door.  It is so good to be able to hear that again.   

___________________________________________

Car Update!

Mom just called and we go to the Honda dealership to pick my car up at 4 PM tomorrow afternoon.  They are performing the 100,000 mile service on it.  Something else I could never afford on my own.  My parent's have been very kind about this whole ordeal and I appreciate it.  They could have scorned me because it was my own stupidity in leaving my keys in the car that allowed it to get stolen. 

Obsessions...

Rosa was being kind of demure on the phone early this morning.  Lots of sexual innuendo going on.  I wasn't interested and wanted to talk about homelessness.

"You are obsessed," Rosa finally told me. "All you think about is homelessness."

I just smiled, hung up the phone, and went to tell Maggie I loved her.  Maggie loves me, obsessions and all.

This morning no one was down at the shopping center which was odd.  I was feeling overly social and wanted to live vicariously through Ferret's experiences.  I wanted to hear all about the beer he drank the previous night.  The sleeping in his tent.  That first cup of alcoholic coffee in the morning he always has.  I started to realize Rosa was right.  I have an unhealthy obsession about things homeless and Ferret in general.  Why couldn't I get obsessed by online competitive gaming or the stock market?  Why couldn't I get obsessed about the game of life like normal people which involved getting married, working and talking about jobs, making money and paying bills, and gathering material goods?  I guess I am just not made that way.

Dexter walked up just as I was leaving.  He had a big goofy grin on his face and wanted to talk. 

"I-I-I g-g-got a job!" he stuttered excitedly.  It was picking up the parking lot over at restaurant row. 

"Great," I thought. "Dexter is retarded and can get a job, but no one will hire me."

I am putting all my eggs in the basket that is vocational rehabilitation.  I will do anything.  I just want to make money again.  That needs to be my obsession.  I have little bills and could live very comfortably off of minimum wage. I picture myself sitting in some factory assembling widgets for an hourly wage -- happy to be getting a paycheck.  

Exuberant...

Two more days to my meeting with Tiffany, the vocational rehabilitation case manager.  She has been so kind on the phone and I have been extra careful to sound very exuberant when she calls.  The bad thing?  I can't remember what room to meet her in the hospital.  Hopefully, the receptionist will know.

I woke up this morning feeling very fit and well.  Excited almost.  It is such a joy to be looking forward to my days.  My sleeping habits are still very topsy-turvy though.  I sleep only when tired and in spurts.  It has been driving Rosa crazy lately and she has been opting to sleep at home.  I can say I am sort of relieved.  Nothing is more miserable than lying in the bed for hours sleepless and afraid to wake up your mate.  Maggie is a far kinder companion when it comes to my very sporadic sleeping habits. 

I've been pricing parts for a new computer.  I love to window shop on Newegg.com.  The price for a top-of-the-line quad-core Intel Core 2 Duo processor is over $1000.  Yikes!  That would be a month's work at minimum wage.  Too rich for my blood, but I can still dream, right?  I sometimes wonder why I want the latest and greatest computer when my computer does everything I ask it to do and does it well.  Upgrading computers and keeping up with technology is a vicious cycle that is very dangerous to the contents of your wallet. 

I just can't keep from reading The Homeless Guy.  I found myself reading this morning as I shook my head.  It is an addiction first and foremost.  He was preaching today about violence in American culture and rambling about pitbulls and guns in bars.  I wondered if anyone else thinks like I do -- that this guy couldn't even take care of his own children or put a roof over his head, and then expects people to take what he says seriously about much more pressing and complicated issues.  I just shook my head and felt terrible for reading.  It is addiction that is going to be hard to break.  I tell ya, it's like Jerry Springer.  He fits the classic definition of a sociopath.    

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mom and Maggie...

Mom was just over to bring Maggie a bag of treats.  I showed her this photo and she said, "Look at my hair!  And I look as broad as a house!"  My mother is overly critical of herself.  I think she looks fine.  It's Maggie I'm worried about in that picture.   Gives new meaning to smiling for the camera.  It looks like Mom is choking her! LOL


Moon in the Clouds...



Full Moon Outside My Window...



Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

I feel so happy lately that I wanted to share it.  I will be sitting at this computer and a smile will break out.  I tend to talk to myself and will say, "I feel so damn good!"  This is all so novel.  For most of my life I have been a pitifully morose person.  I realize I was terribly clinically depressed for most of my life.  The Luvox is really helping with this I hope, or maybe I have changed?  Can sobriety effect your moods and your depression?

My car is at my parent's house.  My mother took it to get it washed and cleaned inside and out.  It was terribly dirty she said.  She says it is fine and drives fine. My mother paid $265 dollars to have the locks changed.  I appreciated that as I could never afford to have that done.  They are going to take it to get serviced before they give it back to me.   You better be damn sure I will never leave the keys in it again.  Innocence lost comes to mind. 

Model Railroader Supreme!

Freight after freight was rolling through town this morning.  I took picture after picture until my camera's batteries gave out.  I love, love, love trains and get so excited about Model Railroading.  I dream of turning my computer room into a small model railroad empire some day; the Chattahoochee Valley Railway.

I also get a lot of derision from Ferret and the gang about my love for trains.  They see it as childish.  I just laugh it off, though, and go about my business.

Ferret spent the morning sitting in Merl's diner drinking coffee and staying warm.  I wanted to join him, but I am saving what is left of my blog advertising cash.  I watched as he walked up to the shopping center around lunch.

"Cold night?" I asked, knowing the temperature got down to around twenty degrees.

"Cold as hell," Ferret replied.

I wanted to give to Ferret the missive I wrote last night explaining how to get and keep a home.  I couldn't draw up the courage to do it though.  I worried he would think it was pretentious and preachy.   Ferret knows how to get and keep a home.  He just chooses not to.  At least I hope so.    

Struggling with that beast, alcoholism, today.  I have money in my pocket, the day is young, and I am bored.  All things foreboding a drinking session.  The thought of those terrible anxiety attacks returning tempers my desire to drink somewhat, though.   I wish I could say it gets easier and it does to a point.  Times passes and you forget what a nightmare drinking can be.  It is easy to slip back into old, comfortable habits -- habits I don't want to relive.  

What 'chu lookin' at Willis?

Maggie has been barking all morning.  It started early about the time I left for the shopping center.  I could hear her a mile away as I walked home around lunch.  I took this picture of her upon arriving home.  She had that "what 'chu lookin' at?" look on her face.  "Just let me bark my fool head off."  I am so glad I have a dog door and she can go outside where I can barely hear it.  This house is so well insulated it's amazing.  No wonder I didn't hear my car getting stolen the day after Christmas. 

The snow is almost gone.  Little vestiges of it can be found in odd places hidden from the sun.  My back deck is still an icy mess and I had to be careful when walking out this morning.  Maggie keeps coming inside wet as if she is rolling in the ice.  I wouldn't be surprise if she is.  I have a crazy dog.  


A German Seductress...

MLK day always holds a certain fond memory of mine.  It was the birthday of a friend, Christina.  Christina was in her sixties when I was in my early twenties.  She lived in the apartment next door to me and was constantly trying to seduce me.  She would knock on my door late at night, wine bottle in hand, and ask me if I was lonely in that heavy German accent.

One night, her gas heater wouldn't light.  She knocked on my door in a negligee.

"Oh Andrew," she said as she would bat her eyelashes.  "Will you light my fire?"

I will never forget walking over to her apartment.  She took off her negligee and stood there in her panties.  A bottle of cheap perfume was in her hand and she sprayed it on her ample breasts.

"Rub me," she said. "Let me feel your warm and strong hands."

I got scared and left.  I have often kicked myself in the proverbial ass for not taking advantage of enjoying the wiles of an older woman.  I never was a very sexual creature -- always too shy about it.  I wonder where Christina is now.  Probably back in her beloved Austria.  She never did like living in the states.   

Remembering a Good Man...


"In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a Promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'"

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

So much of what Dr. King said and wrote holds true to this day.  I wonder what he would think of America today embroiled in war and squabbles over natural resources?  What would he think of the charlatans that claim to be black leaders like Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton?

America and I need more leaders.  Men and women willing to give their lives to a greater cause.  And I am not talking about the military; puppets of a corrupt empire.  I am talking about men and women of great character who rise from modest beginnings to move people to better themselves through peaceful action and dissonance. 

Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

No Camping Tonight and a Missive to Ferret...

Dad has yet to arrive with my meds and it is dusk.  I don't think I am going to hike down in the dark only to stumble in the woods trying to set up my tent.  It was fun planning and preparing for my trip though. 

What I wrote Ferret tonight to give to him when I arrived.  It was a brainstorm thing.  I feel people like Ferret and I have lost those basic fundamental skills in life that allow the majority of people to keep a home. 

How to keep a home....

Getting a home is not hard.  You have to sober up.  Take your meds.  And go to the doctor.  Work falls into place after your sobriety and mental health is restored.  Taking your medications can be the hardest part as the nature of our illnesses automatically makes all medications suspect.  You also get to feeling better and think you are cured. 

Going to work everyday gets old.  You know this.  I know this.  It feels like you are working for peanuts.  You basically have to sell your soul everyday to pay rent.  There is no secret to this other than perseverance.  Every hour at work allows you to pay a bill or contribute to your rent.  Working steadily builds up a resume which can in turn lead to better jobs and opportunities.

I wrote this trying to think of something I could give Ferret to encourage him to take the enlightened path.  Sadly,  people like Ferret and I have lost the most fundamental skills and abilities that your average Joe shows a aptitude for -- the seemingly simple task of keeping a home.  The normal fears of losing a home hardly apply to a bunch of formerly homeless and homeless guys who learned the hard way that homelessness is survivable, doable, and sometimes preferable to having a home. 

Moon in the Trees...


Confused...

I've really tried to support The Homeless Guy lately.  His getting a job went a long way to restoring my faith in the guy (It is the only way he will get a home).  Yesterday, though, he posted a blog post begging for a laptop saying he sold the other one.  It bothered meIt pissed me off.  Why?  I am not sure.  I do think he is amoral and unethical though.  I, personally, couldn't come to you all begging for something. 

I probably would think differently about the begging if he wrote a groundbreaking blog or was actually doing something to help the homeless.  I've been reading for years and I've never seen him do anything tangible to help the homeless -- he was always just self serving.  Why do you read? I thought today. Because you never know what kind of crazy shit or stunt the guy will do next.  It is the blogging equivalent of The Jerry Springer Show.  I deleted his link, removed him from Google Reader, and vowed to break my addiction to his blog.  It just wasn't healthy.  I just don't want to support stupidity anymore.   And anyone who has EVER been homeless, realizes that guy is more full of shit than a sewage treatment plant.  Good riddance...

Preparations...

I have my now antiquated CD/MP3 player loaded with an audio book: The Kite Runner.  In my backpack are "fuel foods" for warmth such as granola bars, GORP, and some ham and cheese sandwiches.  I've got two thermoses soon to be filled with piping hot milky and sweet coffee and the coffee should stay warm until morning.  My spare handwarmer will soon be lit and tucked in my pant's pocket.  I am all ready to join Ferret. 

The last piece of this puzzle allowing me to camp is my father arriving with my medications.  We talked briefly on the phone and I told him to bring me some extra Benadryl so I could sleep.  I also told him I would be camping tonight.

"Camping?" he exclaimed. "It is going to get down to eighteen degrees!"

Dad knows of Ferret and the shopping center gang. Often asking about them and what I have written in my journal lately.  I promised him it was a sober sojourn.  

"Why are you doing this?" he asked before he hung up.

"It's exciting," I replied. "You know I love camping and never go anymore.  The more interesting the weather; the more interesting the camping."

"I'll be over soon," he said and hung up his cell phone.

Amazing...

I ran into Ferret this morning at the shopping center.  Amazingly, he braved last night's snow and cold in his tent.

"My feet got numb, but other than that, I was fine," he said. "It was hard getting up this morning though.  I had a terrible hangover."

It was 30 degrees this morning as we sat briefly talking.  I couldn't stand the cold for long and went to do some shopping in the grocery store.  I kept thinking of Ferret and how raw and visceral his experience must have been.  I have often been an arm chair survivalist and dreamt of walking in Ferret's shoes.  

I bought Ferret a roast beef sandwich from the deli and handed it to him as I walked past leaving the store.

"Thanks, bro," he told me.

"I am coming to do some camping with you," I told him.

"Bring some beer," Ferret snidely replied.

I smiled and took it well.  I've come too far to be gambling with my sobriety by buying beer though.  I then headed home to gather my tent, sleeping bag, and big Kelty backpack.  We are going camping tonight and the low is supposed to get down to nineteen degrees.  I am so excited!!!!    

Wandering Amidst the White...

I took a long walk tonight well past my bedtime.  It was a winter wonderland walking through my quaint little southern town as I trudged down past the town square.  The hush and still of a snow covered world was so palpable and comforting.  It was as if my world was covered by a soft, thick blanket.  Mute. Quiet. Calm. White as snow. Virgin, almost.  It could have been a scene on a Christmas postcard.

I stopped by to see my favorite convenience store clerk on my way home. He was telling me tales of our various town (rednecks) inhabitants in their big four-wheel-drive trucks.  "I've sold enough Budweiser tonight to boost Anheuser Busch's stock price," he told me, laughing. I chuckled along as I drank my hot chocolate and smoked my cigarillo.  I was almost jealous of my redneck brethren.  They were having so much fun, and a four-wheel-drive romp in the snow would have to beat the local mud hole.  Country music blarin'.  Empty cans of Budweiser rattling around in the truck bed.  Marlboro's dangling from mustached lips. 

We ended up with only an inch of the white stuff, but what fun it was.  I thought it was a fitting gift from the weather gods that be for it to snow on my sixtieth day of sobriety -- something terribly rare this deep south -- almost as rare as my extended period of sobriety.  It was also a milestone in that I didn't have to get sloshed to enjoy the snow.  I enjoyed it sober.  Lucid.  Alert.  Content, most of all. 

Rosa was asleep in the bed when I arrived home.  I popped open a diet coke and sat on the side of the bed as I took off my pants, shoes, and socks.  I reached over and brushed the hair out of Rosa's face, and then petted Maggie.  Rosa didn't stir.  Maggie looked up as if she was smiling with that under bite. "Glad you're coming to bed," she seemed to impart.   "Let me go write about this," is what I thought as I sat in front of this computer and started this tale. I felt so good, grounded, and alive. I felt like there was hope left in the world.  It has been a very pleasant day and now I hope sweet dreams await.  Good night or should I say good morning? Au revoir will have to suffice.      

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Snow is Softly Falling

The snow is really coming down now.  I thought it would never start.  I put a video up on the weather blog of it.  Most people don't realize how exceedingly rare this is for us.  It may not snow again for another five years.  

I am worried about Ferret.  He is sitting down in that tent by the river most likely getting drunk and oblivious to the weather.  It is supposed to get down to 17 degrees tonight.  His sleeping bag is rated at 20 degrees.  He was mumbling something about staying with his mother if the weather got bad.  I hope he does. 




Situation Normal

Rosa was excited as I about the snow.  We both went to bed late and the first thing she did when she got up was to look out my den's windows.

"No snow," she said disappointed.

"They hyped it too much," I replied. "That means it is not going to happen."

I got in the kitchen and fixed us some breakfast of cheese toast and coffee.  We are both so disappointed here.  We've only had a cold rain and the bulk of the moisture has already passed. 

It is hard to believe it's been sixty days since I last took a drink.  I remember it vividly and it corresponded with the time I pawned my camera.  I think it was integral for my mental health for me to lay off the booze.  It hasn't been easy though.  I was telling Rosa last night how much I wanted a beer with the threat of adverse weather on the way.

"It would be the stupidest thing you've ever done," She told me.

She was right and I made it to see sixty days sober.  What a miracle knowing how heavy I drank for years.  

Friday, January 18, 2008

Recuperating...

Sorry for the lack of updates today.  I have lately looked at this blog as my day job.  I had to take a day off.  The day started with me and Rosa sleeping till lunch and making it to a noon time A.A. meeting.  We ate at Wendy's in Lagrange, Georgia and I think I got some food poisoning.   I felt feverish and nauseous for the rest of the day and slept in this front bedroom as I listened to the radio.  I didn't wake up till after five and feel so groggy. 

Joyce is home.  Her pastor brought her home this afternoon and came over to talk to me.  He wanted me to keep an eye out for how she is doing and said not to hesitate to call the paramedics if she has another episode.  I've noticed her house is dark and quiet.  I bet she is sleeping.  She must be so tired after weeks in the hospital.  She went in a week before Christmas so it's been a long time.  I am just glad my friend is home and feeling better.

The snow still seems to be on.  Rich Thomas of WSFA 12 predicted 2 to 4 inches for our area.  I tend to believe him more than James Spann and his hyping crew.  The weather blog will be hopping with updates and photos if this does pan out.  I am highly skeptical, though, as the temperatures are still very warm here at 48 degrees at 6 PM.  We will just have to wait and see. 

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Showed Up for the Game Without my Helmet!

If all the numerous hype over at the ABC 33/40 weather blog holds true, then we are in for a snow like we haven't seen since 1993 and the storm of the century.  Needless to say, The Weather Channel, WSFA (my favorite weather news source), and The National Weather service are all saying rain for us and not a major winter storm.  I am confused, but have no fear that there will be plenty of snow pictures on the weather blog if it does decide to grace us with white stuff. 

It's Interesting...

It's interesting how someone with no home and little money can more likely get help for an addiction.  I have often noted this glaring introduction to reality when I tried to reach out for help these past few years.

"Oh, you have Medicare." or "You have a disability income." or "You have a home."

Somehow, this precludes me from getting help.  Clara was a terrible, irascible alcoholic, and homeless when she sought help.  She was able to secure some housing via section 8 and get in an outpatient program for alcoholics down in Columbus, Georgia.  There was help there available for her.  James Christian is homeless in NYC and has recently been able to get into an outpatient program for homeless alcoholics. 

I am not complaining, mind you.  I have far greater resources than those two.  I just can't afford treatment for my alcoholism.  It is up to me and my program with A.A. to stay sober. 

I noted tonight something amazing about Rosa.  She had a terrible crack cocaine addiction.  It was devastating and left her on the streets for years.  Now, she will walk all the way to the clubhouse, like she did tonight, for an N.A. (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting.  It is freezing cold, a very long walk, and she could have easily stayed home and watched TV.  She is working her program and I need to set a better example for her than just these online A.A. meetings I have been attending.  Rosa is amazing to me to have gone through what she went through and to still be sane and whole as a person.  Miracles are worked everyday in the programs of A.A. and N.A.  I want to be one of those miracles.     

Car Update

A local locksmith is busy changing the locks on my car today.  All I know is my mother called and asked me what model year it was (2001) and said they were changing the locks over at the police station.  Hopefully, this means my car will be returned to me soon.  I am going to take a long ride out in the country and really let my hair down.  I never drove much, but didn't realize how much I would just miss the freedom of having the option to drive. 

I meet the vocational rehabilitation case manager next Thursday at the hospital.  I am so excited.  I haven't been this excited about something in years and years.   I have read where they will pay for you to go to a vocational school.  I have thought about car repair/mechanics as a job.  I actually went to school to be a mechanic for a year, but my ex-wife didn't like the idea at the time.  Her and my father talked me into quitting and going to work for AutoZone as a shift manager. I have a very keen aptitude for doing this -- almost a gift.  

Like Moths to a Flame...

There are several shopping centers in town.  The one I frequent has a few restaurants, two dollar stores, a grocery store, and some hair/nail salons.  I was asking Ferret this morning what draws us all down here everyday. 

Ferret shrugged and said, "It is just the place to be.  Everybody knows this is where to hang out."

I mused for a minute about how it is the only shopping center with benches. 

"George came everyday for the patrons," I replied. "The grocery store was good business for him."

"Why do you come down here?" Ferret asked as he took a long drag from his cigarette.

I didn't tell him the truth -- that I come down here as some odd amateur social scientist chronicling their tales and adventures to be put on a weblog or blog.  

"I like the company," I said as I smiled, feigning honesty, as I lit my own cigarillo.

I read a journal of a homeless man named Albert Vanderburg for the longest time.  He hasn't written in over a year, but his archives are still on the web.  Albert and his homeless friends would all congregate at the local shopping mall.  In Hawaii, at that certain shopping center, you could get a quarter dollar for every shopping cart returned.  This kept Albert in cigarettes and beer for over a year -- his sunset brews he would call them.  I chuckled as I imagined such a scenario for "my gang" as well.  It would be pandemonium and Big S would probably lose a hundred pounds.  Dexter would be the worst offender -- always scrambling for an empty cart.  I guess it is cheaper to pay a lackey minimum wage to retrieve them here.  I finally settled on the benches being the main attraction at our shopping center, and the central location to town and the neighborhoods.   

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tonight's Supper

Sharyna was asking about tonight's supper.  I made some chicken and rice with cheddar sauce and broccoli.  Rosa didn't like it.  She said it needed more chicken and less rice and cheese.  I thought it was wonderful on this cold night. I went back for seconds.  That picture of it sure sucks though. 

Rosa is always amused when I take pictures of our food.  "Going on the blog?" she asked. "How 'bout a picture of you?" I replied.  "No way in hell are you taking pictures and putting them on the internet of me!" she exclaimed.  She doesn't know of the one picture I have posted of her on this blog.  


 

Something About It...

There is something about this weather that makes me want to say, "screw it," and go get rip roaring drunk.  Thunderstorms were always a good excuse in the summer.  Frozen white stuff falling from the sky is a good excuse in winter.  I was just telling Rosa about it.

"It's strange," I said. "This weather makes me want to run out and drink beer.  I've always loved aberrant weather."

Rosa laughed.

"Alcoholics and addicts will use any excuse to use," she said. "If my goldfish died then I would smoke up."

"That's true," I replied, smiling. "When I was in college I would use my grades as an excuse to drink.  Made an A? Get drunk and celebrate.  Made an F?  Get drunk and drown my sorrows."

"The trick is: what are you going to do today that is healthy?" Rosa asked.

"I am going to go for a long walk in the sleet, then come home and cook you supper," I replied.

"Don't walk past the convenience store," Rosa said, warning me.

"Hmmmm," I said rubbing my chin, jesting as I grinned. 

Rosa punched me in my side and laughed.  Two months ago I would never be able to laugh and joke about this.  It pays to have a good sense of humor sometimes.  

It's Sleeting!!!

It is sleeting here like I haven't seen it sleet in years.  I just excitedly called my father who is also weather obsessed.

"Isn't this just incredible?" my father responded.  He was in his car.

"The ground crunches when you step on it," I said. "I hope it keeps up!"

"Keep me informed," Dad said as he hung up. 

I put a video of the sleet falling on the weather blog if you are interested. 


La Policia!

The police were out in force this morning.  Crime has been on the upswing in this small town and it was nice seeing them so active.  It made Ferret nervous though.

"The police are so fucked up," he told me. "Bunch of busy bodies."

"I just hope I get my car back tomorrow," I replied.

I told Ferret about the weather for today.  Something he never keeps up with.

"It should be raining after lunch," I told him. "What are you going to do?"

"Lay in my tent, drink beer, and listen to the radio," he told me.

Ah, I so envy him.  That would be the perfect day of relaxation for me.  To lay in my warm sleeping bag, sipping suds, and listening to that terrible right-wing radio that makes me smile.  It crossed my mind that I would take my tent down to the woods and join Ferret.  I have my weather blog to keep up though and it is going to be very active weather the next few days.  I realized I have responsibilities at home as well.  Dad would freak out if he came over and I wasn't home for our medication ritual.   

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Midday Musings...

video

Sigh, Google Reader...

Google Reader is starting to feel like a job. I am a completetist I learned from my video game playing days. I feel the need to complete something once I start. I open up Google Reader and see all those blogs unread and feel compelled to go through them all. It feels like a job and not at all enjoyable. I think I am going back to just browsing blogs organically as I come to them. Slowly moving down my favorites list to be pleasantly surprised when someone has updated. I am more likely to comment as well doing that.

I have been stuck in an Internet rut lately. What do you do to pass time on the Internet? I read only blogs and some days, like the weekends, it can mean a long day with nothing to read. I have a sneaking suspicion a lot of blogging and blog reading is being done at work on the weekdays. Drop a comment and let me know what you like to do online. I am begging you because I need to get out of this rut.

Close Encounters of the Drinking Kind...

"Go get us breakfast," Big S told me as he handed me a ten dollar bill this morning.  This charitable side of Big S was so surprising.  Big S normally only thinks about numero uno. 

I walked the short walk down to Merl's diner and purchased four bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits.  I pitched in a little of my own paltry stash of blog advertising cash to buy three coffees.  I watched hungrily as the lady behind the counter prepared everything.  Merl's was hopping this morning.  The loud clinking of dishes being washed could be heard over the din of diners talking.  The smell of frying bacon and brewing coffee permeated the air. 

"Thanks," I said with a broad grin as the attendant handed me my bag of biscuits and my to-go tray of coffee.  I hurried back up to the shopping center to enjoy this treat.  I was starving.

Ferret had arrived when I walked back up.  I handed him a biscuit and a coffee.  His eyes were bloodshot from last nights drinking and he was shivering.

"Fuckin' cold!" he protested. "I will be glad when summer arrives."

"Then you will be complaining about the mosquitoes," I said jokingly.

Ferret didn't look too amused.

I came closest to drinking again this morning than I have in weeks.  Ferret pulled out a flask of whiskey and poured some into his coffee. "Want some?" he asked as he reached out for my coffee with that flask in hand.  I hesitated and almost went for it.  I wanted to feel the warmth of that alcohol so badly.  I wanted to numb out my day.  Drinking is a vicious cycle for me, though.  I will start and I can't quit.  It is like some train wreck, chain reaction that I can't stop once I start.  My biggest concern would be how disappointed my father would be in me when he came over to bring my medications tonight.  He would know right away that I had been drinking.

I left the shopping center after eating my breakfast.  I had the choice of going by Rosa's house or coming home to sleep some more.  Sleep won out.  I walked home and crashed in the bed -- my mind feverishly going over that encounter with Ferret and the alcohol this morning.  I had come so close to opening that black door leading to disaster.  I always was good at escaping by the hair of my neck.  It is going to be another sober day -- a gratefully sober day. 

Oasis of Light...

Last night I fell asleep dreaming of computers -- of RAM and Motherboards. Video cards and processors. It was a pleasant dream of one of my favorite hobbies besides model railroading. I dreamed of building computers and someday making a living putting together machines for clients.

I once got hired by our local Catholic Church to update their computers. I was never a good business man and did it for cost. My then wife was exasperated with me. "We need the money," she would moan. "And you're giving out charity." It was more about my love of the hobby rather than the dollars I could earn. I will never forget the smile on the church's secretary's face when she booted up her now fast computer. She gave me a hug. It was the best payment I could ever get.

While we are on the subject of my ex-wife, I have been doing a lot of thinking about Rachel lately. Rosa's been asking me a lot of questions about my failed marriage. She can't imagine this bachelor tied down. I miss our Boston Terrier -- an affable little fellow of a dog. I miss Rachel's quirks -- her cerebral-ness and voracity for reading. Rachel and I were strange souls and very suited for each other. If only the drinking and the schizophrenia didn't get in the way, we would still be happily married. I miss Rachel's femininity the most. Rosa is not very feminine. I long for makeup and the smell of perfume and bath oils -- the wiles of femininity beknownst only to a woman.

Treating myself to some Colby cheddar this morning. I love it at room temperature and cut a large hunk and wrapped it in paper towel before going to bed. This finds me munching on cheese and crackers, and drinking a big glass of orange juice this morning. Each bite reminds me how blessed I am as far as having plenty to eat and nourishing food at that.

It is another brutally cold morning. I donned my favorite sweatshirt and sweat pants to set out for my morning walk. I made it to the end of my driveway before turning around and running back inside. I just couldn't deal with all that cold this morning. I would make a terrible homeless person these days unlike Ferret. The sky was pitch black like pools of squid's ink in the predawn light. Street lights shone like little oasis in the dark lighting the way and beckoning me onwards. Daybreak will no doubt find me down at the shopping center so I can once again live vicariously through Ferret's experiences in homeless-hood. I hope you all have a great day.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Blogs are a waitin'...

I am anxiously awaiting my father to arrive with my Benadryl. I saved many blog posts all day in Google Reader to be savored tonight with many drinks of Diet Coke and smokes of pungent cigarillo. It is going to be Andrew's night in. *wrings hands devilishly*

Our much vaunted snow event is now off the radar. Sigh. No snow for us. Check out Andrew's Weather Blog for the latest Southeast weather news. I also put up a brilliant sunset shot tonight. Don't forget to vote for your favorite Weather Channel Babe. Scroll down for pictures of the ladies.