Thursday, February 28, 2008

100 Days Sober and Counting...

That is amazing to me.  A few months ago if you were to ask me if I would still be sober now, I would have told you no.  "It is too hard to quit," I would have told you.  Everyday it gets easier.  Everyday, I thank my higher power and the group of AA for my sobriety.  Now, if I can just make it 365 days, then I will get an almost gold medallion at my AA meeting of choice and birthday cake and ice cream along with bad singing.

I had to go into work early today for an early delivery.  The hardest part of my job is all the phone calls I have to make for directions and such.  I get so nervous that my voice squeaks and my hands shake.  Tim, an employee of my father, asked today if I had seen a ghost I looked so white.  I told him I had to make a phone call about a delivery and he got the most curious look upon his face.   

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Sad Part of my Job...

I am sitting in my office at work.  On my computer screen is the website for which I order parts for our hospital beds.  I have a delivery to do at 2:30. 

I talked to an elderly lady on the phone to get directions to their house.

"Will it raise him up fully?" she asked of the bed.

"Yes ma'am," I replied.

"I want him to be able to see out the window.  I want his last days to be as comfortable as possible."

Her husband had a massive stroke and half of his body is paralyzed.  He is in his eighties and they don't expect him to live very long.  His wife wanted him home when he passes away and not in some sterile hospital room.

Well, I am off to load up the delivery van with a hospital bed and to be on my way.  It's the not-so glamorous part of my job. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Watching the Play Unfold...

Veronica, one of my father's pharmacy techs, got tickled with me today at work.  I was sweeping the front floor of the pharmacy as I got lost listening to patrons coming in.

"John, look at him," Veronica told my father.

Dad laughed.

"What is so interesting, son?" Dad asked as I was propped up on the broom as some customers conversed out of earshot.

"Your customers are fascinating," I replied. 

"Crazy is more like it," Veronica quipped. 

"Oh, he is gonna blog about this when he gets in his office!" Dad exclaimed.

We all burst out laughing. 

Yesteryear's Past...

Stepping in Joyce's house is like stepping back in time -- summer's spent with my grandmother on her farm.  Joyce's house even smells like my late grandmother's house. 

Joyce wanted me to see the fruits of their painting labor today.  I would have picked a little more exciting color than off-white though.  What mattered was that Joyce was happy with it. 

"I'm so glad I have you," Joyce told me as I walked outside to a brisk and cold wind.

We talked briefly of her stay in the hospital all throughout Christmas and New Year's. 

"I don't ever want to go back to that hospital again!" Joyce exclaimed.

"Well, hopefully you won't," I said and I meant it. 

Bah! I just feel slow today mentally that writing this took a gargantuan effort.  I hope it reads okay.  My blog has really sucked lately.   I am headed in for work. 

Monday, February 25, 2008

A New Coat of Love...

The scuttlebutt today is that Joyce is painting her house.   I walked over a moment ago to move some heavy objects from her spare bedroom.

"How do I look?" Joyce said as she just beamed wearing her painting outfit, her cheeks so rosy.

"You look mahhh-velous dahhh-ling!" I replied.

Joyce just giggled like a little school girl, pulling her suspenders high above her.

"Come look this afternoon when we are finished," Joyce said.

Joyce is just so glad to have something positive to do.  Joyce's house's deco looks out of the fifties and sixties and she is trying to modernize.  I offered to help, but she said she and her friend could handle the spare bedroom.  It is good to see my friend smile like she just did as I was leaving.   

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Moment in Time

Maggie sat next to me grooming as we firmly planted ourselves on my couch.  "It's gonna be okay, girl," I kept telling her over and over mainly for myself.   It was reassuring and calming to hear my own voice and to also know I was in charge of another soul -- a soul intrinsically intertwined with mine.  That was sobering to think of. 

I had just gotten off the phone with Rosa.  She was staying home tonight and I can't say I wasn't kind of relieved.  It meant my night would be spent reading the big book of digital command control for my future model railroad.  A subject only I would hold dear. Decoders.  Track wiring.  Schematics were in my future.   Orgasmic subjects for a dyed-in-the-wool model railroader. 

I then looked over at Maggie one last time.  She was now asleep.  Oh, to have the simplicity of life and living a dog's existence could afford.  I then realized I was going to live the next few days with the question "What would Maggie do?"  Tired?  Rest. Feeling mentally wonky?  Take a pill.  Dirty? Take a bath. It is going to be a dog's life here for the next few days.  Life boiled down to it's simplest essence.  "What would Maggie do?"  She certainly wouldn't be writing this or worrying over nothing.  I am off to take a long nap and then get up and eat leftover cold pizza.  It's a dog's life in J-ville these days.

Proselytizing the Beast

I leaned forward interested the other night when Rosa was watching the A & E channel.  The show Intervention was on and they were featuring a young man addicted to DMX, a common ingredient to cough medicine and cough and cold pills.   He was taking up to thirty pills a day to get his fix.  

"That's going to be me," I moaned to Rosa. "If I don't quit taking Benadryl."

Rosa raised an eyebrow and went back to reading her People magazine while watching.  "You can't get addicted to allergy medicine," she said. 

Today was the first time I realized I was addicted because I started to think up plots and lies to tell my mother to buy a pack of the one dollar pills.  "Mom?  Can I get a dollar to go to AA tonight?" was my favorite line and one that would have worked if I used it.  Benadryl is $1.09 with tax for 24 pills over at Fred's dollar store. 

"Dammit!" I cursed loudly as I stood up amidst my scheming.  "You can get addicted to anything.  You are fucking pitiful."

I wanted to break down in sobs at having found myself addicted to yet one more substance, although a Benadryl addiction is mild in all regards when compared to alcohol.  An addiction it is, none-the-less.

The cure?  Cold turkey just like quitting smoking and a renewed focus on 12-step meetings.  I am going to miss those pills, though.  Taking six was like taking a handful of valium.  They were so comforting and calming.   

A Spring-esque Day with Joyce...

Beautiful day here.  Almost reminiscent of spring.  I am noticing signs of it everywhere.  It comes early this far south.  Gotta get a good supply of batteries for my camera cause it is going to see it's fair share of use the next two months. 

Joyce was outside as I pulled up in my car.  She was playing with Maggie.

"Go for a walk with me," she said. "Let's just walk around the block."

I hadn't had a shower yet and was in bad need of a shave.  I squelched my personal appearance misgivings as we walked around the block.

"I've tried to quit smoking," Joyce told me as we walked.  "My nerves are just too bad to quit right now."

"Wait until you get to feeling better," was my reply. 

Joyce reached out to hold my hand and held it firmly. 

"I am painting my bedroom next week and am scrap booking right now," she told me.

I told her of my current obsession with model railroading, and obsession is a good adjective to use.  I am a man obsessed. 

Joyce turned to hug me after our walk around the block.  I told her to come and get me anytime she needed a friend to talk too.  "I just get lonesome," she said of her little house and home.   Joyce said she would start back work soon and that would help.  She was on a two month leave from the little church she is secretary for. 

Just being with Joyce made me feel lonesome today.  I am lucky in that I have Maggie, Rosa, and my family always over here at various times.  Joyce's family only comes around when she is mentally ill.   Her daughter and grandchild live in another state.   I made a mental note to stop by everyday with something good to eat and so we could smoke and talk about our days.  She is a wonderful lady and deserves so much more than the lonely waning years of life.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Being Content....

"I wish you could always be this content," Rosa told me today as we were partaking of a few Sonic burgers at Sonic. 

I wish I could be this content as well.  Life certainly has been most pleasant lately. 

"Your reading again and I have never seen you read on a regular basis," she said as I was finishing my tator tots. 

It was a quiet drive home.   Rosa kept remarking on how mentally able I seem to be these days.  I have come to the conclusion that maybe my father and my psychiatrist were not idiots after all.  That they had my best interests in mind making me take all those pills every night. 

Joyce came over not long after we returned home.  She was lonely and wanted me to read the latest draft of chapter one of her memoirs.  I sat them on my piano and told her I would get to them tonight.

"I don't want to go home," Joyce told me of her empty house. 

"Stay with us!" Rosa said and they have been  conversing ever since -- Rosa and Joyce being two peas in a pod.   

I told Joyce that she was welcome anytime.    It nice hearing two women talk as I am sitting here writing this.  It feels like home.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Picture Perfect

That's how things have been lately.  Picture perfect.  I know I am starting to sound like a broken record and people are looking for some drama. They're just isn't any here.  Things have been so well that I have been enjoying my hobbies to the point of being enthralled.  Beforehand, I haven't felt mentally able to enjoy my hobby, model railroading, in years. 

Today, I still have tons of stuff in storage over at my late grandmother's house.  My air brush and air compressor.  Boxes and boxes.  All my model railroading supplies.  I am going to drive over and see if I can bring some home.  I look forward to putting together my spare desk and using that as my hobby center.

Also, I actually have a spare bedroom to turn into a modest rail empire and my father thought that was a great idea.  All the pieces to this puzzle that has been my life these past few years is coming together.  The penultimate experience is me getting to enjoy life for a change.  No addictions that always robbed me of time and money.    No mental illness that always made me feel wonky and confused.  Just smooth sailing and I think I deserve some time like that after years of upheaval. 

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dinnertime...

The smell of hotdogs, spicy mustard, and kraut permeated my nostrils as I stepped inside my door tonight.  Rosa had fixed one of my favorite meals.

"I even fried some french fries," she told me smiling proudly.

"Yum," was my reply. "I'm starving!"

"How was work?" Rosa asked as we sat eating.

"It was a terribly depressing and rainy evening," I replied.

And it was.  Such dreary evenings would usually send me into a tail spin of mediocrity and dullness.  I was glad when that last delivery was made and I could head back to the store to get my car. 

"Any pill counters tonight?" Rosa then asked of work as she smiled.

"Thankfully, no!" I replied laughing. "I wouldn't want to stand out in the rain for that tonight.  It's cold!"

I ended up eating three hotdogs.  There goes my diet.  Rosa thought I was going to eat a fourth.  I was too full, though.  Maggie seemed perfectly pleased to get a Hebrew National wiener for herself. 

Now?  I plan on curling up in my lazy boy lounge chair reading Model Railroaders till bedtime.  I am sure Rosa will pick some interesting things to watch on TV.  She doesn't like my preferred Public Broadcasting.  "They're stuffy and boring," is always what she says of Georgia Public Broadcasting. 

Picturesque...

The lobby of my doctor's office is filled with framed pictures he took. Wall to wall.  There is this one photo of the railroad bridge spanning over the Chattahoochee river.  I stood there admiring it this morning as I was waiting to be called back.

"Are any of these for sale?"  I turned and asked the receptionist. 

"You'll have to ask the doctor that," she replied. 

I didn't have time to wait the required hours to see my doctor, and soon was called back by my favorite nurse.  My nurse gave me my injection and I was free to go.  I stopped and looked at that photo one more time before leaving the bustling lobby.    I remarked to myself that I would just have to take a similar photo with my own camera.

The daffodils are already blooming these days.  I saw several flower beds flush with the color yellow on the drive home.  Spring is almost here and I grow excited.  Thankfully,  I didn't get the doldrums this winter like usual.  It has been a pleasant journey through these dark and cold months.

Well, I am off to clean house, wash clothes, and fold laundry before heading in to work.  I will try to get back in a habit of writing more these days.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Day One -- A Pill Counter...

Today was the first day of the little part time job my father gave me.  I have my own little office with a newer Dell computer and Internet access.  I spent a long time today in the pharmacy's basement organizing all our hospital beds to see which ones worked and which ones needed parts. 

This afternoon I got caught by a pill counter doing my deliveries.  I had to stand at this little old lady's front door while she counted the hundreds of pills I delivered making sure she wasn't shorted.  I couldn't help but smile.  Thankfully, all her pills were in the correct amounts and in the correct bottles.  I think the little old lady was actually disappointed that nothing was amiss.  She looked ornery and like she just needed a reason to bitch and moan. I hope when I grow older I do it with grace and not become a mean and crotchety old soul.

I think I am going to like this job.  There is certainly little pressure upon me.  The deliveries usually only take about two hours a night.  One caveat:  I can smoke in my father's van while doing deliveries.  He said he didn't mind as long as I did it with the window rolled down.  I will be there bright and early tomorrow afternoon ready to make some more money for my Model Railroad empire.    

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Railroading Man

Spent the past few days obsessed with my Model Railroaders. Sunup finds me in my Lazy Boy reading, and sundown finds the same. Little empires are built in my mind as I daydream and enjoy the artistry of others. Rosa is wondering when I am going to tire of this phase I am going through. I've been so obsessed that my usual pastimes of blogging and writing have fallen to the wayside.

This afternoon I broke away from my magazines long enough to get my mountain bike roadworthy again. The tires were flat and the chain and gears needed oiling. I felt like a little kid again riding through my neighborhood in the cool evening air tonight.

I was standing out in the back yard putting my bike under the basement when Rosa called outside tonight. She said she had supper ready. She had fixed an easy supper of grilled cheddar sandwiches and some vegetable/beef soup I had frozen that she thawed. It was a delicious supper befitting this cool, almost fall-like evening.

I also talked to Dad on the phone this evening and we are going to drive to Riverdale, Georgia to Riverdale Station. A great little model railroading and train shop specializing in trains from the south. He said I could pick up some supplies and kits I intend to build. That gave me something to look forward to.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Professor...

My  father, along with his pharmacy, has a home health care business.  He has been dropping hints that he may want me to come work for him.  I would be delivering hospital beds and oxygen units.  Of course, I grew completely excited.  This would be the perfect job for me.  Dad would only pay me enough where it wouldn't disrupt my disability. 

Dad was in a good mood last night.  He kept holding my hand and telling me how proud he's been of me lately.  Slowly but surely we're rebuilding that relationship and trust I almost destroyed being a drunk.  It is hard to believe I've gone 90 days without a drink.  That is truly a miracle.

Dad made a remark about how content Maggie seems to be. 

"The Professor is on spring break," I told him about Maggie.

We both burst out laughing.

"The Professor is such a good name for Maggie," he replied.  

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rainbow After the Storm...


Tough Times in New York

The Homeless Guy in New York City is going through a rough time.  We corresponded briefly when he was in prison for felony assault.  He is struggling with his sobriety, and being on the streets of New York, homeless, has compounded this problem,  This blog post from a few days ago touched me.  You could almost hear the desperation in his voice.

Hi,
I am not feeling alive today!
I feel depressed. I am going through the motions of going to meetings, calling my sponsor and…just doing STUFF to occupy time!
Today, my clothes smell. And it’s NOT from me. It’s from hangin’ around FUMIN’ bums in the shelter!! It’s so DISGUSTING!!!
GOD HELP ME!!!!
Chris

Just Her Luck...

Rosa got a speeding ticket yesterday.  She was doing 45 in a 25 mile per hour zone right in front of our local high school.  She has been really beating herself up over that.  "I haven't driven in years," she said. "It would just be my luck to get a speeding ticket when I start back."

I've got a renewed interest in Model Railroading.  I have magazines going all the way back to the seventies when I was a child.  Lately, I curl up in my lazy boy lounge chair and read for hours. I have also been designing a lot of track plans that will fit in my extra bedroom.  It is all so exciting and gives me something to look forward to. 

Another strange thing I am doing lately is watching TV.  I haven't watched TV regularly in years and years (if you don't count The Weather Channel).  Rosa and I have both fallen in love what what used to be Court TV and is now Tru TV.  I love those forensic science based shows. 

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Off to a Good Start...

Rosa fixed a big breakfast this morning.  She scrambled cheddar cheese eggs, and made some toast, bacon, grits, and coffee.  I was enjoying not having to cook.   I did do the cleaning up afterwards.  Rosa and I learned that Maggie loves cheese and grits. 

"Boy, I bet she is constipated in a few days," I said of Maggie. 

Rosa laughed and gave Maggie some more bacon.  My dog is spoiled. 

I sat on my porch smoking this cool morning as Joyce came bounding outside her door.

"Who's car is that?" Joyce asked being nosey.

"It's Rosa's new car," I replied.

"That car is cute," Joyce said walking over to look at it.

"I'm gonna wash your car today," I told Joyce.  Joyce's car looks like it hasn't been washed in over a year. 

Today, I have to get Joyce up a mouse for her computer.  She is writing her memoirs and I am going to edit them.  "I want to tell everyone about my psychosis and bi-polar disorders," she said.  She eventually wants to sell her story to Reader's Digest.  I thought it was a noble effort if somewhat gargantuan task. She has already written one chapter and it looks promising.  

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rambling Man...

Spent most of the morning washing and detailing Rosa's and my cars.  Rosa's car looks like brand new and is running in tip-top shape.  Rosa has learned that the price of gas has been a rude awakening, though. 

Earlier in the day, I ran into Ferret.  He was wanting me to take him to the truck stop for a shower.  I said I couldn't as I didn't know what time my mother would be coming this afternoon with my groceries.  Ferret badly needs a shower.  You can smell him from several feet away.  It is starting to hinder his ability to buy beer in convenience stores. 

Morning's Sunrise...


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Last Spring's Blossoms -- Part Five

There is an old wives' tale of Jesus' cross being made of Dogwoods.  It is said the flowers represent Christ hanging from the cross.  Each flower petal is brown or red at the end representing the blood of Christ.. Because of the terrible deeds for which this tree was used for, God made the Dogwood forever stunted so no one could be hung on a cross of Dogwood ever again. 


Last Spring's Blossoms -- Part Four


Last Spring's Blossoms -- Part Three

I now realize what a great camera my Canon A640 was. It had two less mega-pixels than my A650, but took better shots.  The colors just seem more vibrant with my old A640. I hate I dropped that camera and ruined it. 


Past Remembrances...

This photo of me was taken in the early nineties. I was working for Martex making a hundred dollars a night putting up cases of towels on production while driving a Hyster forklift.  Little did I know that my life would soon change drastically.  My schizophrenia was lurking in the shadows getting ready to pounce.

I showed this photo to my father last night.

"You look just like your uncle Roger," Dad said. "That is a great picture of you."

That picture seems like another lifetime to me.  It was a high water mark for my life.  I had all the money, chicks and booze to possibly last a lifetime.  Reality can be a harsh mistress, though, and it was a rude awakening when I started to have mental problems.  My seemingly perfect life came crashing down around me.  I spent the next decade tying in vain to keep things together in all aspects of my life. 

Yesterday's Sunset

Today's sunset picture brought to you by crazy fun ball.  Remember to never taunt crazy fun ball. 



Hey Sis!

This photo was taken only a few hours after my sister delivered my little niece. I thought this was such a good photo of my sister. She just looked a-glow.

Last Spring's Blossoms -- Part Two


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What would you do?

What would you do if you had a grown son who was once homeless and a severe drunkard?  You watched on as he was drinking himself to death -- everyday a little piece of your once outgoing son would die.  Towards the end of my drinking career, I was having blackouts -- not remembering what I did or where I drove.  I was drinking up to 24 beers a day.  I was on the road to destruction. 

What would you do if that same son had an extreme mental illness -- an almost debilitating mental illness that had also claimed the social life and profession of your wife.  You had gone through this once, and now you were facing it again with your oldest son who was now dependent upon you.

I don't blame my father for what he has done.  As I grow in recovery and sobriety, I see his severe methods almost as needed.  He saved my life.  He made me learn to live without a drink.  He has made sure I had the basic necessities of life -- all the things that my drinking was robbing me of.  Today I have twenty dollars in my wallet, and I didn't drive down immediately to get a case of beer to get drunk.  THAT IS A MIRACLE!  I came home and decided to save that money to do an oil change on Rosa's car. 

It is my own fault that my father is not received in a good light on this blog.  It reminds me of when I was married.  Rachel was always badmouthing me to her parents, and then would act surprised when they didn't like me and when I wouldn't be around them.  She made her bed and had to lie in it, and so have I.  I hope to change that.   I love my father.  I would be dead without him or on the way out.  I would be just another homeless statistic languishing in a major city.  Rife with addictions, dishonesty, and thievery. 

The Day After...

I sat down for hours at the shopping center this morning.  It was an overcast day, but warm.  Big S was sitting next to me and not talking.  We were both quiet today.  I looked on earnestly as people shopped.  I almost expected George to come driving up at any moment.  I miss that old codger. 

"Looks like it is going to rain," I mumbled to Big S.

"Uh-huh," Big S grunted quietly. 

Big S is the poster boy for being content with what you have.  He does little, but sit down here everyday to escape his sister and her toddler children.  That old saying "a bump on a log" comes to mind.  I sat until our lack of conversation grew uncomfortable and I left.  I got in my car and drove through town enjoying a short jaunt. 

Rosa has her car.  It is an older model Toyota Corolla with some miles on it.  It runs perfectly, though, and the air conditioner blows freezing cold air.  She is so proud and I am excited for her.  She drove to her first NA meeting last night down in Auburn.  I worried about her driving so late in the evening, but she did fine.  She wants to try other and more interesting meetings.  Another chapter in my and Rosa's lives unfolds with her getting this car.  You won't catch me riding with her, though.  She is a scary driver! LOL 

To Err is to Work...

"Why did you want to work so badly?" my father asked me on the phone this morning.

"To be honest, Dad," I said. "I wanted a new computer.  I felt it was the only way I was going to get one.  My old computer is so junky."

"We'll see about getting you a computer from Dell," he told me. "I bought your mother and I a computer."

"You're kidding," I told my father astonished. "That's y'alls first computer.  Now, you can read my weather blog."

"I'm proud of you," my father told me. "I'm proud of you for making the right decision.   You could have gotten yourself in a mess doing all that with working."

I agreed.  I wasn't thinking clearly.  I was blinded by my own lust for things material and money-wise.  I wanted so badly to be independent and self-supporting.  I will just try vocational rehab. and see how that turns out. 

Monday, February 11, 2008

Work is a No-Go!

Wasn't able to make it in tonight.  I was forced to stay home by veiled threats. My father came back over just as I was walking out the door to head to work.  He had went and bought me some diet Cokes.  He saw the uniform and immediately knew I had a job.  We argued furiously.  His biggest concern was me not thinking correctly and losing my Medicare part D coverage.  Medicare part D pays the full $2000 of my medication's cost.  Dad said any increase in my income and they would no longer pay.  I had the biggest anxiety attack after he left.  I laid in the bed and cried my heart and eyes out.   It took an hour for me to get over my attack.  They are so physical with me seeing things out of my periphery vision. My heart will race and my throat will grow incredibly dry.  I am going to bed.  I took all six Benadryl tonight in an effort to "medicate" my anxiety.  I might not write for a few days due to embarrassment.   I feel like such a schmuck for hyping this job so much.  I'm as bad as "The Homeless Guy."  And I was so critical of him not keeping his job.  What goes around comes around.

On a positive note, Dad strongly encouraged me to go the vocational rehabilitation route.  He will support that.  They will work with Social Security to ensure I keep my benefits he said.  

My Work Uniform...

In the bag was an apron which confirms I will be a line cook. I would have had a tie if I were working the front end. This is looking much better all the time.

For Cheryl: I get one "free" meal per shift during my thirty minute break. A sandwich of my choice, small fries, and a small drink.

Daffodil from Last Spring...


Good News!

McDonald's lobby is closed after 10 PM when I will be working.  Only the drive-thru will be open and that assuaged a lot of my fears.  I am assuming I am going to be a line cook.  I'll be slingin' some burgers tonight, baby!  I feel much better about that rather than having to run a register and dealing with the public. 

Orientation went well.  We went over what will be expected of me and things such as health insurance plans. My first paycheck will be on Feb. 25.  That is a long time away. 

I pray Dad gets here on time with my medications.  Should be around 9:30 and I have to be at work at 10:45.  It takes about thirty minutes to drive there.

The Time is Here...

Well, today is the big day.  I didn't stay up much longer after midnight last night despite my best efforts.  I just got too sleepy and crashed in the bed.  My blog advertising check came in the mail this morning.  I drove down to get it cashed, but Wal-Mart oddly wouldn't cash it.  I will have to brave my ex-wife and my bank it seems to get the money.  That money is going to be used for gas to work. 

I have to be at work at 3:30 today for orientation.  What that entails I do not know.  I do know I will be getting my work uniform.  I am so excited and maybe this is a good sign.  I am worried I will panic though without sleep.  We will just tackle that when it arrives.  

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Last Spring's Blossoms...


The Maelstrom...

"Tomorrow is the big day!" Rosa exclaimed calling a moment ago.

"You go get your car!" I exclaimed back.

"I was talking about you working," Rosa said as she laughed.

It is a big day for the both of us.  Rosa buys a used car and I start work and orientation.  Rosa is so excited about being able to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings in other towns.  She can catch a meeting a night now. 

"I think I am going to drive to the ocean next week," Rosa told me wistfully. "You'll be working."

"It is a five hour drive, but I know how much you would love to see it," I said. "Go for it, but be careful."

I sometimes forget that Rosa is better equipped to handle life than I.  She has been through so much that nothing scares her.  I admire that fierce wanderlust and determination in her.

I agreed to pick her up this afternoon.  I want to ride out to the lake and look at the water levels.  I would also like to stop at the dam and see if the Vietnamese fishermen are out fishing for carp.  It is going to be a good and restful afternoon -- much needed as I enter the maelstrom tomorrow night.  I hope you all have a good Sunday.  

Race to the Finish Line...

As Monday draws closer, my anxiety increases exponentially.  Is this normal?  I have tried so hard to stay up at night, but don't make it far past midnight and I am in the bed with Maggie.  I am scared I won't be able to handle a new job and working third shift too.  Why did I have to pipe up when talking about times to the job recruiter for Mickey D's?  I told her I once worked third shift for a year and she penciled me in for that time as if I could do it again.  It would just be my luck.  It seems everything is conspiring against me doing this.  The long drive.  Third shift. A brusque manager.  Minimum wage.

I keep thinking I have to start somewhere.  For nine months, I will be bringing in around $2000 dollars after taxes including my disability.  It should allow me to save and pay some old debts.  I have to start at the bottom again and work my way up.

Will I make it?  We will know Monday.  That first night is going to be key.  I don't handle adversity well mentally so it will be interesting to see how I do. I have orientation tomorrow at 3:30 PM.    

Shadow and Light...


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Good-day Mick!

Mick Williams' Cyber-line is a radio show about nothing and something. And I love it! It would bore most people to tears, but Saturday comes and I grow more and more excited as 10 PM nears. I listen to the radio like most people watch TV. The Internet with regards to streaming radio is growing so exciting and innovative. No longer am I relegated to listening to those spurious right-wing political talk shows so prominent on today's airwaves. I have a choice and can forego politics completely! Awesome! I find modern politics a fool's errand anyway.

Going to try and stay up tonight. I slept for three hours late this afternoon getting ready. Actually, Dad brought my Benadryl and it puts me to sleep after taking it. He was headed with J.L. to a basketball game in Auburn. I find basketball, and most sports for that matter to be boring. Bunch of men running back and forth trying to stuff a ball in a basket is just not exciting to me. Now show me a motherboard with it's technical specifications and I get a hard-on. Oh sexy computer parts, where are you? I can't wait to be making some money again!

What Time of Day am I?

Got this meme from Annabel.  I don't usually do memes or blog post fillers, but felt in a strange mood this afternoon. 

I am a very early morning person.  I love to get up sometimes as early as 5 AM and browse blogs that updated the night before. I am sure this will change when I go back to work, though.

Time for Cornbread????


Scheming...

I realized today that I don't even have to tell my parents I am working.  It is none of their business.  I am a grown man.  Dad will arrive every night around 9:30 with my medications.  I will have already showered.  I will leave the house at 10:30 to be at work at 11 PM.  I will be home at 8:30 AM in the morning in time to get my injection for my schizophrenia every two weeks at 9 AM.  There is no reason for them to know.

But you know what?  I feel wrong for doing that.  I still feel as if I am a teenager all over again.  It is hard for me to believe I am 35 years old.  The boundaries between my family and I have become inexorably muddled over these past few years of my dependence. 

When I took a job working at the grocery store at the shopping center where the gang hangs out, my father berated me so badly.

"I can't believe you did that without consulting me," I remember him telling me over the phone angrily. "You need to quit."

I quit the job due to the pressure my family was putting on me.  It was actually the perfect job to suit my disability.  I didn't go into the trial work period which is so precious.   There was no stress involved.  All I did was wrap vegetables and fruits all morning in plastic wrap to be sold.  I should have never quit that job.

But, think of this... Isn't there something terribly wrong with just having to hide going to work?  My best instincts tell me that I am caught in a terribly unhealthy relationship.  I have worried and fretted over this so that I feel frazzled.  

Of Front Side Busses and Licenses...

Been spending some time browsing Newegg.com this morning, shopping for computer parts.  I drool at things like a 1333 front side bus and a shared 4 megabyte cache.  I keep telling myself I shouldn't count my chickens before they are hatched.  I could work only one night and be brought to my knees. 

Dad was flummoxed last night when I asked for my license.  Mom wasn't supposed to tell me, but she was worried she was going to have to take me to get another.   Dad was visibly perturbed and shaken.  I walked out to his car to get my old wallet.

"Why were you trying to keep my license from me?" I asked.

"Cause I was trying to keep you from drinking," was his reply.

I love my father.  I really do, but his efforts to control me cross the line sometimes.  I sometimes wonder if he is actually trying to make life easier for himself without regards to me. 

I was looking at the picture on my license last night.  It was taken when I was still drinking heavily.  I looked like death warmed over.  I would have fit in at any Rescue Mission amidst a bunch of homeless drunks.  I don't think GQ is going to be calling anytime soon.      

Friday, February 8, 2008

Meals of Togetherness...

We sat at Rosa's table slowly eating our vegetable soup and cornbread.  Previously, I had been mesmerized by Rosa's aquarium.  I made a mental note to get mine out of storage.

"How are you feeling?" Rosa asked me in between bites of nourishing soup.

"My mind is busy," I said as I took a drink of milk. "Too many diet cokes."

"Well, at least you know what caused it," she replied.

I returned to eating.  Rosa doesn't cook often, but when she does it is delicious.  Food just tastes better when someone else prepares it.

"I'm staying home tonight and cleaning house," Rosa told me. "I will see you in the morning."

I was going to miss her deeply.  Sometimes, I like sleeping alone, just Maggie and me, but it is always nice to wake up with another warm soul in the bed.  I told her I would pick her up when I got up and going in the morning as well. 

The first thing Rosa did after supper was turn the TV back on.  I slipped out the front door and drove home hating to eat and run.  I was hoping Dad would come earlier with my medications tonight.  It is now almost nine and he has yet to show.  He gets later every night and I grow more impatient.  I love him though, and despite all his controlling ways he is my father.  The man who sired me.  The man who bought me a home and a car.   And the man to whom I look up to so deeply.  Love can be a double edged sword sometimes.    

A Helping Hand...

I sat in the parking lot of Wal-Mart behind the wheel of my mother's car.  It had been about an hour and I had smoked over three cigarillos.  People came and went from the store, and I had a good time people watching.  Soon, mom came ambling out.  She looked worried and tussled. 

"Feel my hand," she said as she got in the car.

"Your hands are just a shaking," I told her as I cranked up the car.

"I am having one of my panic attacks," she told me. "I saw so many people I knew in Wal-Mart, and I have so much to do.  I just wanted to come and go quietly."

"Never fails," I told her as I drove out of the parking lot and got on highway 29. "Never fails to get caught by a lot of people when you feel ill."

It was a short drive to my father's pharmacy.  Dad was off for the afternoon and mom needed some copies of a living will she was carrying.  Shaking hands and all, she went in the store only to return a few minutes later.

"What makes us do this?" she asked me as I drove to my grandmother's house.  "Why can't we just be normal?"

My heart went out to my mother as I replied, "It is going to be okay.  You've done a lot today and need to lie down."

"I sleep all the time, though," my mother told me.  "I stay in the bed.  I can't even run errands without getting upset."

I knew how my mother felt as I drove us towards home.  I had agreed to drive her because she was having a bad day with her anxieties and panic attacks.  I thought of my own returning to work.  Could I?  Could I be so brash to think I can work with my "busy" mind and my anxieties?  I am going to try.  I am going to be at work 11 PM my time Monday night and hopefully third shift will be far kinder than first or second -- the busiest times of the day for fast food.

There comes a time when you have to face your biggest fears, and try to overcome your most limiting liabilities.  You're only given so many chances in life until they no longer come.  I hope to make the most of this chance to work -- a chance to reinvent the mentally ill man that was always so afraid of change -- so afraid of others and afraid of being independent.  As work draws closer, I grow more resolute that I am doing the right thing -- the most important and life changing thing I've done in years.   

Lazy Daze...

No one was down at the shopping center this morning.  I briefly saw Dexter walking to who knows where, but he didn't stop to chat.  I sat reading a Robert Jordan book as I drank a coke and smoked cigarillos. 

I tried to stay up all night last night, but didn't make it far past midnight.  I got so sleepy I had to go to bed.  I will try again tonight.  I want to be prepared come Monday night and the start of my job.  My Anonymous commenter seems to think I won't show up.  He may be right, but I am going to give it a good try. 

Not much is planned today.  I took Rosa home at lunch and came home to eat my last microwave meal.  Honey roasted chicken and mashed potatoes with chives.   I am now listening to Dr. Joy Browne, and will listen to Dr. Laura next.  Mom will come about two with my groceries for the week and we will fill up my car.  I hope you are all having a good day.  Mine is going well so far -- these last days of freedom. 

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Not My Forte...

I've been kind of obsessive in my talk of work these past two days.  I apologize.  I know you all are growing tired of it.  I promise to get down to the shopping center in the morning and get up some gang tales.  I, myself, am interested to see how Ferret is doing and will take him some more food tomorrow.  I am actually looking forward to seeing that old schiester, Big S, as well. 

A Busy Mind...

Lately, I've felt better than ever mentally.  I am no longer morose or depressed.  The paranoia is gone.  I haven't had delusions in months.  I do have what I call a busy mind.  I can become easily overwhelmed with a lot going on.  I am scared this will effect my job performance or my ability to work at all.  My grandfather always said that the most important thing you can have is your health.  He died at age 55 of a brain tumor.  I believe him.  I want my brain to be healthy. 

I remember back to my younger and more virile days of my youth.  I could do any job.   And now a simple job at McDonald's has me worried and stymied.  Rosa and I were eating supper as I asked, "What if I can't do it?" "Just quit," was Rosa's reply. "You don't have to do anything you are uncomfortable with."   I want to do this though.  I want a new computer.  I want to be able to afford to get my license renewed.  I don't want to have to call Mom and Dad every time I just need some cokes, cigarettes, or food.  I am completely dependent upon them for my well being.  I want to be a self-supporting man. 

Oh well, I will know Monday night if I can do this or not.  That will be the litmus test.  If I can make it through that first third shift without a "busy mind" or my anxiety attacks, then I will have a major hurdle jumped.  It is going to be an interesting ride and I can't wait to write about it Tuesday morning!

Questions...

Rosa and I were sitting on the couch.  She was watching some banal television show.

"What are you going to do in nine months?" she asked me.

"Would do you mean?" I asked.

"Your disability will run out and you will have no way to pay for your medications."

"I am hoping they will have a pay-to-stay-in plan I can utilize," I replied.

"What about your Dad and the medications?"

"We will still be able to do that," I told her. "Work will start at 11 PM eastern time.  They are on central time."

"What if you have one of your panic attacks?"

"Then I will just breath deep and take a break.  Probably go have a cigarette."

"I am just scared for you," Rosa told me. "I just don't want things to get messed up."

"And that's why I love you," I said. "You genuinely care about me."

Rosa is in the kitchen now making some supper.  We are having cubed steak, creamed potatoes, and creamed corn.  The smells are wonderful.  I realize there are so many questions to me returning to work.  I can understand Rosa's concern.  It is going to be okay, though.  I will know in a few weeks if I will be able to continue. 

Do you want fries with that?

Well, I am the newest employee of McDonald's.  The interview went well.  I start Monday night and work from 10 PM to 7 AM.  Boy, am I ever going to be tired that first night.  I won't be the first time I've worked third shift.  In the early nineties, I worked as a forklift driver in a towel warehouse third shift.  I enjoyed working third better than any other.

I think this job is important to me learning to work again.  It is an entry level job, and will allow me to build up a resume again.  I will be very nervous come Monday night, though.  I am so scared I will have one of my vicious anxiety attacks due to the stress.  We will just have to tackle that when it arises.  

The Big Day...

"I think I may have a job," I told my nurse this morning during our every two week injection ritual.

"Oh, I am so proud of you!" she exclaimed as she gave me a hug.

I left the doctor's office and went by my father's pharmacy.  He was handing me my Benadryl as I told him about the job.

"Just don't go for the interview," he said. "I can't see you working at McDonald's anyway."

"I'll think about it," I told him. "I really want to work."

I left the pharmacy and went by my parent's house to get my Social Security card.  I never can get my mother's maid's name straight.  I call her by her sister's name.  She gets pissed off.   "Helen!" she said brusquely correcting me. 

Well, today is the big day.  Sadly, I can't afford to work and it is probably going to be the stupidest thing I have ever done by returning.  I am awash in emotion this morning as I ponder what to do.  I looked online and the job is most likely going to be third shift -- third shift at minimum wage.   Doesn't sound too appealing does it?  I am going to give it the good college try, though.  I hope to be working by this weekend.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Long Drive...

Well, I just got finished driving all the way to where I could be working.  It is 40 miles round trip.  I was worried I couldn't afford the gas to work there.  My fuel gauge only dropped a little bit. 

Now, how to convince my father this is a good thing?  He won't understand my desire to be independent or self-supporting.  He will say I won't work very long and I may not.  But, you know what?  I am going to give this a damn good try.  I am going to bust my ass for my boss these next few weeks and maybe, possibly, transfer to the McDonald's in town. 

Personally? I am so excited.  I want something to do with my days and there are just no volunteer opportunities here in town.  I will be working and learning, at the same time, how to work again.  Getting up for showers.  Being somewhere on time.  Performing my duties.  It will be a good test to see if I am still up to this despite my limitations.  I really haven't worked since 2003.  It has been a long, long time.  And just think of the blog fodder working at McDonald's will provide!

Joining the Crew...

I have an interview at McDonald's tomorrow at 11:15.  I just got the call from the manager a moment ago.  This was an online application where I had to take a test.  She said I scored a "green" on the test.  The job would be in Opelika, Alabama which is about a thirty minute drive from my home.  She basically said I was hired and asked me for my pants and shirt size for the uniform.  The interview would be a formality.   I am so scared.  I got so nervous my hands and knees started to shake.  I haven't worked in years.  This would be such a big step for me and my independence. 

Teetering on the Edge...

I just took Ferret some sandwiches.  I had noticed this morning that he looked like he has lost a lot of weight.  I parked at the railroad museum and made my way back to his campsite which is just beyond the railyard. 

"Lunch," I said loudly as I walked up to his tent so as not to startle him.  Big S said he was back down here and he was.  I could hear him stirring in his tent. He had gotten drunk enough where he wanted to sleep it off.  

Ferret poked his head out of his tent.  And then proceeded to teeter on his knees as he urinated out his tent at the threshold of it's door.  I couldn't help but laugh.  He was pretty drunk.

"You hungry, man?" I asked.

"What did you bring?" Ferret asked, slurring his words something terribly.

"Ham and cheddar sandwiches with potato chips and apple pastries," I told him.

"Thank you," he said as he took the plastic bag filled with food from my hand.

I didn't stay long.  I got back in my car and drove home.  When I was homeless, I would have loved for someone to visit my campsite with food.  Cooking was always an ordeal living in the woods.  I've always said my savior would be bearing a sack of cheeseburgers, packs of Marlboros, and a case of beer. 

Foolhardy...

Ferret had been drinking earnestly since last night.  I watched him carefully for signs of being drunk.  There was a swagger in his step.  His voice was slurred.  He was loud, boisterous, and foolhardy.

"Just how much have you had to drink?" I finally asked him.

"Dat nigga sho can drink!" Big S chimed in, laughing, as I said that.

"I had a twelve pack of ice beer last night and one during this morning's storm," Ferret told me.

"Jesus," I muttered.

Ferret slinked off towards the convenience store to buy a pack of cigarettes.  Big S began to ask me about Kevin, the homeless guy.  Big S is fascinated that I have an online life revolving around blogs.  I told him Kevin was still doing the same crazy shit he has always done, but he is doing nothing to get out of homelessness.  Most of his time is being spent in the downtown library blogging and putting out little Internet fires that result from his blog.

My hunger got the best of me around lunch.  I shook Big S's hand and got in my car to drive home.  Usually, I would be over concerned about Ferret and his drinking, but I came to a conclusion this morning -- that I can't be his protector and keeper.  He is a grown man full aware of what his is doing.  That realization felt good and freeing.  Not that I don't care for my friend.  I just can't change him for the better.  Only he can do that.       

Obsession No More...

One of the biggest changes I've noticed in my life lately is the obsession to drink is gone.  When my father first took away my disability money, I thought I was going to die.  I wanted to drink so badly.  I would scheme and do anything for a drink then.  Time has passed.  Many AA meetings are under my belt.  I no longer sit here and think of beer.  The obsession is gone.  That has been one of the biggest blessings in my new life so far. 

Backpeddling...

I wrote a post at lunch about Ferret drinking, Big S, and "The Homeless Guy's" antics.  I took that post down.  I decided to wait until something positive happens to write instead.  Life is good today.  We had some good storms blow through this morning which I always enjoy.  I drove down to the shopping center for awhile at lunch.  Now, I am just waiting on life to happen.  I should get out and make it happen. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Laughter in Recovery

Rosa called a moment ago.  It was so good to hear her voice.  I've been kind of paranoid that we were growing tired of each other, but things have been well lately.  We suit each other like a fine cheese and expensive wine.  We both have storied pasts and tales of woe, and yet we are both consistently upbeat and positive.  I need that in my life.  I need her. 

"Narcotics Anonymous tonight," she told me after I said hello. "I want you to go with me.  They are such a fun group."

That's something I have never equated with Alcoholics Anonymous.  That of it being a fun group.  I love AA, but for the most part, they are a reserved bunch of people -- almost dour.  Overly serious.   The local NA group is filled with laughter and recovery.  Young people who were once on the fringe of society -- outcasts due to their addictions -- reveling in their sobriety and stewardship for each other.

"Are you going with me?" Rosa asked after my pause.

"8 o' clock right?"

"Pick me up at 7:30," Rosa replied.

There is a heavily tattooed young couple that goes to NA.  I made the mistake of asking them a few weeks ago if they were married.  "We are brother and sister!" they exclaimed.  We all got a good laugh out of that.  I look forward to seeing that duo tonight.  I also look forward to supporting Rosa in her recovery.      

The Shopping Center Blues

It was an overcast and cloudy day, but warm.  I sat down at the shopping center for what seemed like hours waiting on Big S or Ferret to show up.   They never did.  Rosa had wanted to come hang out with us, and I told her I would be down there.  She didn't come as well.  Today's shopping center experience was a bust.

I walked on down to the train tracks before leaving.  I sat next to the old Chattahoochee Valley caboose waiting on trains to arrive. I get so excited at the sound of that air horn so far off down the tracks.  I readied my camera and took shots as the trains passed -- another freight headed for Atlanta.   As I sat, the smell of lunches cooking wafted across the highway coming from Merl's diner.  My stomach grumbled. 

Getting out of the house for my daily walk like this is so important to me.  I have a tendency to want to stay sequestered inside in front of the computer.  Bust or no, it was a good time.  I got to see a train.  I cleared my head and gave my body a chance to get woken up.  I got some much needed exercise.  It is going to be a good day.  I can feel it. 

Monday, February 4, 2008

Strike Three

Struggling today.  I drove all the way to Lagrange, 20 something miles, and got a case of social anxiety.  I just couldn't muster up the courage to go inside.  I got it in my head that I was going to be accosted at tonight's meeting.  Accosted over not having a dollar to put in the basket.  It is kind of bad night with me running out of cokes and the replacements are in my parent's garage.   Dad is at work and mom spends every Monday night visiting with an elderly family friend. 

Mental Illness ebbs and flows.  I've had some really good days lately -- so good, I almost thought I was cured.  Tonight serves to remind me I'm not out of the woods yet.  Bad days happen.  I've tried to do too much today.   I am now going to spend some quality time online -- my Google reader backlog is getting ridiculous.  I shouldn't do these frivolous updates either.  I've got to put more effort into my writing and not make this a boring "day in the life" blog.  It just feels good to write and share -- addicting almost.   

Back to Step One

I sheepishly walked into Goodwill filled with social anxiety.

"Do y'all except volunteers?" I asked the brusque cashier, mustering up all my will.

"Check with the manager. In the back. To your left," she told me as she pointed.

Sadly, the manager told me they didn't have a volunteer program. He was a frumpy looking fellow about my father's age.  He was actually more interested in browsing the Internet and I had disturbed him.  Pfttt!  I let him get back to browsing. 

The library was just across the highway through a red light.  I pulled into the parking lot and panicked.  I have never seen so many people.  The library parking lot was full and people were parading in and out.  My social anxieties got the best of me and hightailed it to home.  But I did stop by my father's pharmacy to check on that computer he wanted to give me.  ANCIENT.  WINDOWS 98.  LOL  I couldn't use it, but I prostrated myself to him, telling him how thankful I was for the offer.  Mistakenly,  Dad thought he was giving me some grand piece of computer machinery which made me feel bad when I told him it was too old -- older than the ancient backup computer I am using to write this. 

I am now waiting on 5:30 to get here for my 6 PM AA meeting in Lagrange.  It is a thirty minute drive up there.  I am lamenting the amount of gas these AA trips are taking and lamenting even more the fact that AA in the Valley is essentially dead. 

This is where my phone phobias trip me up.  Step two should be to harangue vocational rehabilitation till I get some progress.  Call the numbers.  Set up appointments.  Be proactive instead of reactive.  I've really got to get on the ball with rehab.  I am just worried because I missed that lady who came to the Valley and hospital that they won't help me.  I need all the help I can get these days.  If McDonald's won't hire me with glaring "Now Hiring" signs out front, then I don't know who will.  

Railroad Nirvana

It was a long walk down to the railyard, but a walk of great pleasure.  I was expecting rain and had my umbrella with me, but it never did.  I sat on the old bench next to the tracks where Ferret slept during his first stint at homelessness.  This bench has been there since I was a child and was also a favorite place to sit and railfan then.  

Trains passed as I sat and read the latest issue of Model Railroader.  Grand dreams played out in my head of model rail empires in my spare bedroom.  Little toys for big boys is what I thought as I sat and read.  This great feeling of joy washed over me as I sat.  I truly don't have a care in the world or any responsibility.  The day was my oyster and open to all possibilities.  Many of my blogging friends are rife with responsibility -- their time so constrained.  I am a very lucky man. 

I tried to make it home in time to drive to the noon AA meeting in Lagrange, but didn't make it.  I would have been late to the meeting and anyone with social anxiety abhors walking into a room full of people late.  There was also a nasty message on my answering machine from the social worker out at county mental health.  The decision not to go was probably one of the more major decisions I have made in years -- almost as major as deciding not to drink.  My whole financial world would have been turned upside down by signing on the dotted line.  My finances combed over with a fine toothed comb.  Yes, I would have gotten money, but it would have been at a steep price to pay -- the price of alienating my father after such feelings of goodwill lately. 

I am now turning my thoughts to having some direction to my life.  Not having any responsibility can be a blessing and a curse.  I thought of driving to Goodwill and offering my volunteer services.  I also still have the library to try, but our local library is so small that I don't see them needing volunteers.   It wouldn't hurt to ask, though.  I looked online and there are loads of volunteer opportunities an hour to the north in Atlanta, and those are just out of my reach.  Alas, there are none here.    

Shacking Up

Laid in the bed last night talking to Rosa on the phone.  She was having a topsy-turvy night -- there is always some drama going on with her and her daughter.   We eventually got on the subject of marriage which frightens the bejeebus out of me. 

"Could you see us married?" she asked.

"I can't even afford a pack of cigarettes, and you want to ask about marriage?" was my callous and terse reply for which I later apologized. 

I told her we would discuss this down the road when my finances are more stable and secure.  I still have a lot of growing and maturing to do before I take that big leap into the abyss that is Holy Matrimony.  I don't want to take that leap of faith blindly and without A LOT of sobriety under my belt. 

Dr. Laura would call Rosa an unpaid whore -- her sleeping over here many nights.  We are "shacking up" in the eyes of the not so humble psychologist.  I could also tell Dr. Laura she needs to eat a cheeseburger or two.  It reminds me of that old saying to not throw stones in glass houses.  

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Reunion

It was a quiet drive to AA -- the road ahead bereft of cars and laid out in front of me like a dark and winding snake in the waning light of dusk.  I was content to listen to the radio -- pop music out of Columbus.  All popular music now has that R & B influence I dislike and find so distasteful, but I listened anyway.  I pulled up in the parking lot of Self Help Harbor to find no other cars.  "Were they having a meeting?" I wondered.  It seems as if in a matter of minutes cars poured into the parking lot.  I saw a familiar old Ford Crown Victoria I hadn't seen in ages.  It was unmistakable.  It was my old AA friend Wanda.  Fate and AA had brought us together again.  

"How are you?" she asked as she gave me a hug after walking to my car.

"Fine," I replied. "It is so good to see you. I haven't seen you in ages."

"I've been back out," Wanda said which was AA-speak for drinking again.  "I've come back though.  I'm a week sober."

"Today is my 75th day sober," I told her proudly.

"I will be honest with you," she said as she laughed. "I never thought you would ever get sober for so long.  You were pretty messed up for awhile there."

It was a routine AA meeting.  We started the meeting with "How It Works" and "The Twelve Steps and Traditions."  We all talked meanderingly about having an attitude of gratitude which was so relevant to my recent train of thinking.  Being thankful for what I have for the first time in my life has been such an important step in my recovery.

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest." 

Those words from "How it Works" rang in my head far after the meeting had ended.  "There are those too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders."  That magic combination of psych meds, AA meetings, sobriety, and honesty has served to so change my life drastically these past few months. 

"You know I had a crush on you," Wanda told me after the meeting as we walked to our cars. "I am old enough to be your mother.  I so wanted you to do well."

"I am doing well," I replied. "I am doing better these days than I have for my whole life."

"And you give me hope that I, too, can stay sober," Wanda said.

"Attitude of gratitude," I said echoing tonight's meeting as I warmly smiled and gave Wanda a heartfelt hug.  "I am so very glad to see you again."

We both agreed to do lunch soon.  I got in my car and pointed it down the long and dark street away from Self Help Harbor.  I had the biggest smile on my face and was just brimming to the rim with hope.  This program truly is magical and can change lives.  They say once you go to AA then you will never be able to drink the same way again.  I believe it.  Attitude of gratitude.  May I always have it.  Good night.  

Looking Back...

I would have never thought four years ago I would be where I am now.  I remember those cold homeless mornings so vividly.  I would crawl out of my tent to a frost covered world as I got a fire started.  Freezing cold, I would stamp my feet on the ground to warm them.  I would immediately crack open a beer as I ate my usual gruel breakfast of grits or instant oatmeal.  Lunch time would find me drunk as a warming sun would rise high in the sky.  I remember that warmth vividly.  A nap would follow in my tent and more drinking would earnestly start in the afternoon.  Nightfall would find me three sheets to the wind. 

I discovered homeless blogs then.  I would sneak over to my deceased grandmother's house every night to use the computer.  The house would be cold and I found a little space heater to warm my feet.  I discovered The Homeless Guy and hung on his every word.  I wanted to move to Nashville and live in the shelters there, but I drank so much I couldn't sober up enough to go.   All my money went to beer. 

One night I called my mother...

"Mom, I'm cold," I replied.

"Where are you?  You just disappeared!" she replied.

"I am over at Memaw's house.  I'm homeless."

She drove over to turn on the heat and help me make a bed to sleep in. 

"I don't care what your father says," she told me. "But I'm not letting you be homeless."

I remember writing on my blog how excited I was.  I was so cold and forlorn.  I thought my life was at an end.  Fate had other plans for me.  I had a home, and now the hard work was upon me to get sober and straighten out my life.  What a journey it has been!

A Good Day Dawns...

Today continues the trend of me feeling well.  I slept so well last night as I normally do these days.  I wandered into the kitchen and fixed a scrambled egg sandwich as Maggie stayed directly under my feet.  Rosa soon called as she normally does on Sunday morning when she stays home.

"Hey sleepyhead," she said. "You up?"

"It is slow going this morning, but I am up," I replied.

"What's going on this morning?"

"My good computer died," I replied.

"We will have a funeral tomorrow," she said. "I know how much you loved that computer."

I chuckled and hung up the phone when she told me she was fixing some lunch.  I am going to miss that computer.  I am mainly going to miss Window's Vista.  I am back on WindowsXP Pro now. 

Today will continue another day of thanks.  I just feel so elated lately and wonder if it's my medications.  Not even my computer dying could get me down.  I was a dour and depressed person for most of my life, and am now happy and upbeat.  I have a 6 PM AA meeting in Lagrange, but other than that, I have no other plans.  It is going to be a good day.  I can feel it. 

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Happy Dog!

We sound like country come to town! LOL

video

A Day of Thanks...

Today has been a day of thanks.  I've thought all day how cold I was when I was homeless, and so enjoyed the heat of this house.  I sat at my kitchen table eating a hot ham and cheddar sandwich tonight as Maggie looked on earnestly getting little morsels.  "Thank you!" I said aloud as I was eating. "Thank you for this food and this warm house and thank you for Maggie."   I want to wrap my father in my arms tonight and give him the biggest hug of thanks.  He saved me from destruction.  I would have never gotten sober if he didn't make alcohol so hard to get.  I have tears of joy in my eyes as I write this.

Tonight, I will do a video of Dad coming over and how excited Maggie gets when he does.  Y'all should see her!  It will be posted around 10 PM.  You will get to see my father in action.

Sticks R Fun!

It's a slow blog day! Sorry!
 

Waiting on Joyce...

Maggie associates Joyce with food.  Here she is laying next to the fence waiting on Joyce's cornbread.  No amount of calling on my part could get her inside until I said the word, "treat."  Maggie tore through the dog door to get her pupperoni treat.  The way to my dog's heart is through her stomach.


Is the Grass Really Greener?

I've been thinking this morning about the grass always being greener on the other side, or is it?   I know I feel this urge to work, but I am very lucky.  I have most things that some in third world countries would die for.  A home.  Plenty of food.  Warmth.  I also have the freedom since I don't work to go to two AA meetings a day.  That is going to be my goal:  to get really active in AA.  To make it a lifestyle.  A new sober life.  To be of service to others.  I am still going to keep trying for vocational rehabilitation, and I am going to listen to my father for a change.  I think by being active in AA I will make new friendships, a paramount goal of mine.  Healthy friendships.  Friendships to last a lifetime. 

Through Yonder Fence I Lie...

A Female Tree!


Rife with Innuendo

The rumor mill down at the shopping center was going full force this morning.  Big S always had a penchant for meddling and gossiping.  The rumor was that Ferret has a well-to-do grandfather who is supporting him financially.  During Ferret's first stint at homelessness, he was on disability.  He got a place to stay and a job with Kentucky Fried Chicken.  I assumed he was utilizing the ticket to work program.  I've wondered where Ferret gets all his money from.  He seems to have an inexhaustible supply of cash to drink with.  He will often drink non-wino/homeless-exorbitant beers and liquors such as Budweiser and Southern Comfort, respectively.

"Dat niggas got a sugah daddy!" Big S exclaimed to me.

I always shudder at Ferret's and Big S's use of that derogatory term.  They banter it about like it was polite table talk.  

"Well, he certainly has more money coming in than what disability would allow," I replied. "Why don't you ask him instead of gossiping about it?"

"It ain't none of my business," Big S responded.

"It seems you've already made it your business," I said as I chuckled and took another drag from my cigarillo.

If Ferret does have a "sugah daddy," then it will be doubly hard for him to quit drinking.  And here I am being one of those meddling AA do gooders I used to hate so much when I wanted to drink. Hah!  

Friday, February 1, 2008

Patience Grasshopper!

Dad said no to my "step-up" financial plan for this month.  He did agree to start in April, though.  I will just be patient and wait.  He was good to me tonight and didn't get upset.

"Your brother and sister both got to be doctors by listening to me," he told me. "You would be wise to listen to me, too."

"I know," I replied. "I can just be so impetuous sometimes."

"Your mother says you are looking for jobs, as well."

"I get tired of never having any money.  It feels degrading."

"Go to vocational rehabilitation and I will support you working through them.  Listen to me and you will be okay," Dad told me as he got up to leave.

We joked some about how good a wife Maggie has been as he rubbed her back.  Rosa was in my bedroom watching TV during this.  She sheepishly came out to see what happened.  My father makes her nervous. 

"No go," I told her. "You will have to put up with a poor boyfriend for two more months."

Rosa is a sweetheart for putting up with that.  I will be dependant upon her for spending cash for awhile.  I will pay her back, though.  

Google Reader Madness!

Why Google Reader can feel overwhelming sometimes.  Especially if you read a lot of blogs and try to comment on them all.  I've pretty much given up on being a regular commenter on many blogs.  I realized I was being trite, and just commenting to say something.  It was a vain attempt at trying to stand out from the blogging crowd.


Watching My Neighbors...

One of the rare times you will catch me using flash photography!

Maggie kills me sitting on the back of the couch like some felines I have known in my life.  Tonight, our neighbor across the street was washing his car.  This transfixed Maggie for a good hour until a cootie started eating on her rear.

Andrew's Step-Up Plan

This is the plan I am proposing to my father tonight when he brings my medications:

  • February -- $20 dollars a week
  • March -- $40 dollars a week
  • April -- back to our normal $85 dollars a week

It is a gradual step up to having more financial responsibility.  He would still pay my household bills, car insurance, etc.  One of my biggest laments about our current arrangement is rarely having a dollar to put in the AA donation basket.  Nothing embarrasses me more at the moment than having to pass that basket on to my next AA goer without having put something in. 

It Just Feels Wrong...

I've thought about this for hours.  As usual, I told my mother about it, but she didn't have anything to offer.  My mother can't make a decision without my father's help.  It just feels wrong to go behind my father's back and to get my disability changed.  We are talking again like father and son (The first time this has happened in years).  If I were to go through with this, then I would destroy that and I know it.  I will talk to my father tonight and we both will decide what to do.  This may be the impetus he needs to begin trusting me with money again.  I can't forget what he did for me in buying me this house and my car.  I knew there would be a price to pay when I took a home out of homelessness with my family's help.  I knew it wouldn't be easy as no journey out of homelessness ever is.  My sobriety must come first and, honestly, not even I am sure I could trust myself with lots of cash at this point.  We will see what happens tonight after my and Dad's talk about this.  I hope I didn't piss everyone off by doing this.  I very much appreciated all the feedback, pro and con, on the previous post.  Doing what I just wrote feels right and my sober feelings have rarely led me astray. 

For My Friend, Pipe Tobacco...

I realize this is self indulgent twaddle, but it is probably one of the most life changing and major decisions I will have made in years. 

Astonishingly,  county mental health just called a moment ago and they still have me scheduled to come in this Monday to get my disability turned over to a social worker as my representative payee.  I was astounded.  I thought the appointment had been canceled as it has been months since I've heard anything about it.  This will cause a shit storm in my family, though.  I got so nervous after the call that my hands and arms began to violently shake.  I sat down in this chair and nervously smoked a cigarillo.  I don't know what to do.  What do I want to do?  To go and get my disability changed so my father is no longer over it.  Our relationship has been so much better lately, though, and I fear I will destroy all that.  This is a definite case of catch-22.

Pros and Cons to my father having control of my disability...

  • I always have Internet access.
  • All my bills are paid.
  • My car insurance is paid.
  • I always have food.
  • Dad takes care of any windfalls with my money.

Cons...

  • I never have any cash.
  • I can't take Rosa out on dates.
  • Dad will most likely make me start paying rent when I change to punish me.  I don't know if I can afford it.  I really don't have any earthly idea of how much money I have. 
  • Dad uses the money to control my life and my actions.
  • Once given back to me in April, it could be taken away again on a whim.  One beer and it is another year without. 
  • I can't just run to the store when I need something.  I have to call Dad or Mom and wait on it. They grow tired of me asking -- resentful almost.  
  • I don't have any sense of independence.
  • My own money is not mine in it's purest sense.