Friday, October 31, 2008

Horror of Horrors...

I had my first anxiety attack at work yesterday.  I quickly escaped to the store's basement and lay down on an old hospital bed where it was dark and quiet.  Veronica came down to check on me.

"Is this part of your mental illness?" she asked me.

"Yeah," I replied. "I will be better in about thirty minutes."

When I wanted to work for McDonald's, this was my biggest fear.  That I would have one of these around lots of people with no where to lie down.  Luckily, my father is much more forgiving of this.


I'm off today and was sleeping in. I was half asleep when Helen let herself in. 

"God! It is freezing in here!" I heard her exclaim as she went straight to my thermostat to turn up the heat.  I quickly pulled on some clothes to see if she needed help carrying in the groceries.  She didn't. 

"What's for supper?" I asked inquisitively. 

"It is a surprise, baby," she replied with a grin. 

No doubt, It will be something fried and I am not complaining.  What is it about southern cooking were everything is fried?  I did see a box of frozen broccoli in Helen's grocery bag. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

An Eight Hour Tour...

Dad needed extra help so I have spent the last three days working all day with overtime.  I am not used to standing up that long and had to take frequent breaks.  I was so tired after work every day that I would put on my sleeping wear, grab a magazine, and hit the covers.  Even when it was still light outside! I did it though.  It makes me feel better about giving vocational rehabilitation a try soon.  I can do it (work) with practice.

Tonight, I felt more spirited than most nights.  I got in the kitchen and made breakfast for supper with Maggie watching my every move.  I was humming loudly as I stirred some scrambled eggs when there was a knock upon my door.

"I can't stay long," mom said upon opening the door. "I just wanted to see how you are doing."

"You're just in time for supper," I replied.

Mom said she wasn't going to eat, but she ended up eating a plate full of eggs, bacon, cheese, and toast.

"Food just tastes better when someone else cooks it," mom told me.

Tonight, I feel a certain sense of contemplative pride over this week so far.  It has probably been one of the most normal and mainstream weeks I've experienced since I got a home out of homelessness or quit drinking.   

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An Errand of Mercy...

The last time I got a haircut was August of '07. My family rallied around me today in an intervention of sorts. You see, I have this terrible phobia about getting my haircut.

"I'll give you two of your Klonopin tonight if you get your haircut," Dad said bribing me.

Charlie was waiting in my father's bathroom with a chair, scissors, and towels.

Afterwards, Dad washed my hair and helped me to get to looking better. He then made me shave my neck, sideburns, and mustache. I felt like a better and newer man afterwards.

Now, I am going to enjoy those two Klonopin with a night of armchair model railroading.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Baked and Barbecued...

Yesterday, I made it another "no clean" day for Helen and I.  I also let her pick the menu and it wasn't long until I was following her around a supermarket.  Helen showed me the finer art of buying chicken for baking.

"You don't want boneless breasts, baby," she told me. "The chicken will be dry and rubbery. The bones keep the chicken moist."

A few hours later, mom and I were sitting down to a supper of baked barbeque chicken and macaroni and cheese.  I am starting to really like having Helen pick the menu.  It is like a grab bag of meals. 

This morning, I went to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.  I practically drove almost to Atlanta to attend.   I felt out of place.  I was the only guy there and the only one that wasn't terribly obese.  When I got home, I weighed on my scales and am down to 210 pounds.  At one time I weighed 257.   I will probably go back again as I did like the more congenial and personal atmosphere.  

Best Political Ad...

I'm not really getting political here.  I just really like this video and song.  Some talented souls are working for Obama. 

Obama '08 - Vote For Hope from MC Yogi on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Long Day Ends...

We are experiencing a cold rain tonight.  It so evokes memories of winter in the South. 

"It even smells like winter," I told my father standing out at his car a moment ago. 

Today started out interesting.  I needed twenty dollars to pay for my and Wanda's lunch.  I headed over to find mom still in the bed.

"Can I get twenty dollars?" I pleaded. 

"No!" my mother said point blankly.  

I put on my best whiny teenager persona and voice.

"Please? Please? I want to take Wanda out to eat."

Mom usually gives in if I pester her enough.  She rolled over, pulled the covers over her head, and told me to get it out of her purse. 

It was a standard AA meeting.  Wanda I both talked of how AA in the Valley has just about died due to one very overbearing and patriarchal man who thinks he runs the program.  They used to have meetings every night,  Now, it is down to two times a week.

Wanda, as I had expected, was tired and didn't eat much.  I pigged out with two quarter pounders w/cheese and a large fries. 

"You remind me of my son in Germany," Wanda told me. "Now, he was a bottomless pit and still is."

I took Wanda home and then had to come home and get ready for work.  We've bought a new building next door to the pharmacy that is going to be for our home healthcare operations.   It is my job to get my office moved and set up.  That is what I did today.

Have I told you how glad I am to be home with my Maggins, my tobacco pipe, and mugs of sweet, milky coffee?  I hear raindrops pitter pattering on my window sill.  Gonna sleep nice tonight.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Frantic and Harried...

My special AA friend, Wanda, called me tonight.

"Where have you been?  You haven't been going to AA!"

I have spurts of activity as far as AA goes.  I will get really interested for awhile then they start that higher power stuff and totally lose me.  I've been using the AA group as a whole as my higher power.

"You only have to stay sober today!" Wanda exclaimed and then hung up.  She sounded so frantic and harried.  I then got to worrying about her so I called her back.

"Go with me tomorrow to the lunch meeting, please?" I asked her.  "I will drive and then we will get lunch at McDonalds."

"It's a date," Wanda then said and we hung up our phones.   

Wanda sounded like my mother tonight when she was on one of her manic highs.  I'm worried about her.  She has to work all night and will be tired tomorrow for a meeting.  I look forward to seeing her, though. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Be Careful What You Ask For...

"Dad?  What is something I could do for you today?" I asked my father over the phone a moment ago. 

I've been trying to do little things to help my parents out.  They do so much for me. 

"Trim the back hedge in the backyard and I would forever be indebted to you," Dad said over the bustling din of his drug store.

"Shit!" I muttered under my breath.  Not the dreaded back hedge.  Of all things I could have done, that would be the one dad picked. 

"Okay," I said none too enthusiastically.

"Love you son," Dad said as he hung up the phone the valiant victor. 

Well, I better go get to trimming.  It is a two hour job on spindly step ladders.  I will be sore for a week.  :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Shout Out!

I just wanted to take a moment and thank Jiggins for the kind things he wrote about this blog on his own.  I've had the pleasure to meet and befriend some of the kindest and coolest people in the blogging world.  Thank you, Jiggins!

A Cure for the Lonesomes...

Do you ever just get lonesome?  I woke up lonesome this morning.  I drove over to hang out with Helen at my parent's house.  Helen was folding laundry when I walked in.  Dad and mom were still in the bed. 

"I took my husband that Model Railroader you gave me," Helen told me.

Helen's husband is paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheel chair.  I thought he might like the hobby. 

"What did he think?" I asked excited.

"He read the whole thing and now wants me to order stuff," Helen replied.

I was so excited.  I love to share the hobby and love it even more when someone joins in.  

"What are you doing up so early baby?" Helen then asked me.

"I was lonesome," I told her honestly.  "That little house can grow lonesome at times."

Helen got in the kitchen and cooked me some toast with preserves.  We sat at the table and gabbed a while longer.  I then headed on home with plans to get up Helen's husband more magazines.  

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peddling Drugs...

One of the girls called in sick this morning and I had to go into work on a Saturday.  I manned a register and checked people out.  We have a new system were everyone must sign on an electronic pad for their prescriptions.  It is rather convoluted.  

"You sure are groggy this morning," dad said when I first walked in.

"It is my medications," I told him.

He smelled my breath for alcohol anyway.

It took till noon for my grogginess to wear off.  The empty chair in front of the store looked so inviting for nap.   I was really dragging my feet today.  I felt better, though.  Better than I have all week and was pleased to be able to have something to do that was productive.

As I was leaving to escape to my car, dad grabbed my shoulder and said, "Your utility bill was only $125 this month.  I am very proud of you for keeping costs down."  I beamed with pride.  As old as I am, anything positive as in a positive affirmation from my father means so much to me.    

Friday, October 17, 2008

She called me Santa...

I was in the bathroom shaving this morning when Helen let herself in.  I poked my head out the door to say, "hello!"

"You look like Santa with all that on your face," Helen replied  chuckling.

I didn't shave yesterday and Helen made a big fuss about how much better I look when I do.  It is one of my father's major pet peeves about my personal hygiene habits. 

I let Helen pick the menu this week.  She ran by the drug store to get money from dad to buy the groceries.  The weeks menu was pork cutlets fried, squash casserole, green beans, and biscuits.  I kept walking in the kitchen underfoot to sniff deeply and tell Helen how good it smells.

Mom is coming over to eat in a moment.  I hope dad comes too.  He is off today and doing whatever he does on a day off.  Helen fixed her a big plate to carry home to her husband.  We are ready for a feast.  I needed this today as I feel kind of shaky today.  Feeling weird.   

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dear Helen...

"I'm tired and I want to go home," Helen whispered to me while mom was in her bathroom getting my Tylenol and aspirin.

"Friday, we are going to just cook and eat at my house," I told her back. "No cleaning."

Helen just grinned and shook her head in agreement as she went back to vacuuming my mother's rug.  "Love you, baby," she mouthed. 

Mom is not having a good day.  Today she goes and buys both household's groceries.  It was after noon and she was still in her pajamas.

"I'll go buy the groceries," I told her.

"You will?" mom asked, sounding excited.

"But your father would kill me if he found out," mom then replied looking deflated.  "I can't give you that much money."

Oh well.  I tried.  I got in my car and headed home.  I feel good today and I hope it stays that way.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Benches No More...

Feeling much better today.  I felt well enough to ride my bike down to the tracks to do some rail fanning.   There weren't many trains, but I got some good photos of odd motive power.  I also got a lot of sun this gorgeous day. 

Right up the street from the tracks is the shopping center.  I noticed today that they have removed all the benches for people to sit upon.  Big S and the gang must be livid.  I wonder if they will move to restaurant row to do their panhandling. 

I finally left the tracks and rode up to my parent's house to get some Tylenol and aspirin.  The hill to my parent's house about killed me and I had to get off and walk.  Mom was sitting in the kitchen eating a bowl of cereal.  Helen had the day off.  I told mom how strange I've felt lately as if everything is being experienced in the third person.

"You need to call your doctor," Mom said keenly. "You may need a higher dosage of something ."

I don't want to feel drugged though as is often the case with psychiatric medications.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On the Downhill Slide...

Let's not talk about yesterday.  I had a tough day mentally and barely made it.  Mom arrived around 7 PM with some medicine and saved the day.  I finally could get some rest. 

This morning I sat in my doctor's waiting room watching the fish in the huge aquarium in there.  The fish were so calm inducing.  Soon, my doctor's nurse called me back for my injection. 

"I read online where some mental health nurses just won't give this shot due to it's size," I told Rebecca.  "They are intimidated by it."

"It is the largest injection needle I have ever seen," Rebecca replied.

I got my shot and mom was waiting outside in her car reading a book.

"Everything come out okay?" she asked.

"Yeah, I am fine," I replied already feeling better.

The rest of the day has been quiet with a long nap and some magazine reading time. 

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Silence at Last...

I drove over to my parent's house this morning.  Dad had cooked bacon and biscuits.  I realized today how much he is like his mother.  Breakfast was the bonding agent in her family and she never let a day pass without preparing it.

"Did you listen to the game last night?" my father asked me as we sat and ate. 

Auburn lost badly.  I lied and said I did.  Actually, I could care less about football this year.  I never was a big sports fan.

All during our meal, dad's cellphone rang.  He would mutter damn it and would look to see who was calling.  They were all business related calls.

"I wouldn't want people to be able to contact me anywhere," I told him about his cellphone. "You know my phobia of the phone."

Dad reached over and turned the phone off and we both erupted in smiles as we finished our breakfast.  I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.  I love my father.  

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Partisan Poop...

What do you do when your favorite blog on homelessness gets hijacked by the author's brash opinions on partisan politics?  I wrote a kind request to the author hoping he would move such material to a separate blog.  The sad thing is that he usually does the opposite of what people ask him to do.

I try not to write about politics and religion.  They are just too polarizing.  I once made some snide remarks about conservative talk radio hosts and how stupid they are.  I ran off several valued readers doing so.  It seems the country is neatly divided into two camps: democrat and republican.   I call myself a moderate that falls in the middle of the spectrum of the two partisan groups. 


Dad left mom forty dollars for us to eat on tonight.  Mom and I both agreed that a fried catfish plate from Rodger's Barbecue would be delicious.  We weren't disappointed.  Mom stayed for several hours as we watched old episodes of Forensic Files.   

Dad also left my medications with mom for her to give them to me.  That was a shocking first.  It was nice not having to wait until bedtime to take my medications.


Dealing with a lot of schizophrenia related paranoia today.  I am scared to look at my comments for fear of being berated.    I got it into my head earlier today that Social Security was reading my blog and I almost deleted it.  I came so very close. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pill Poppers Anonymous...

Mom and I were sitting at a red light in my car a moment ago.  Mom reaches into her purse to pull out three Xanax and pops them in her mouth.

"Is my driving making you nervous?" I asked truly concerned.

"No," mom said putting her hand to her forehead. "I've got to go see mother when you drive me home."

I smiled.  My grandmother is a hellion.  Two of her children aren't speaking to her right now.  The one in town needs to pop pills to go see her.

"Do you want me to go with you?" I asked.

"I think I am going to call her and tell her I have a stomach virus," mom replied. 

Mom is still sitting in my den and watching TV as Maggie sits by her side.  As the day grows shorter, there is less of a chance she will visit the nursing home.    

This Just Cracks Me Up!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Sentinel...

I took this photo a moment ago.  Maggie was calming down after a furious barking session provoked by a pedestrian on a bike.  She looks so regal in this photo.


I put on my favorite shorts and shirt after a shower this morning.  I was feeling good.... almost cocky.   I had to be at work a few hours to learn our new check-out system.  It was required attendance. 

I managed to talk dad into giving me five dollars for a hamburger as I was leaving.

"Don't go buy and drink mouthwash," he told me warily. 

When will he ever trust me?

My next destination was mom's house.  I had to pick up Tylenol and aspirin.  They, my parents, only allow me six a day of each fearing I will overdose.  

"I wish you could move in with us and have your old bedroom back," mom told me in her pajamas. "I get lonesome and would love to have you around."

I thought about it for about ten seconds.  For ten seconds it seemed nice, but I would be under the Johnny regime.  That would mean making up my bed every day and doing constant yard work which I hate.  I do miss mom, though, and entertained the thought.  It was nice she trusts me so much these days to welcome me home.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The financial crisis, a Pokemon parable

The Financial Crisis, as Explained to My Fourteen-Year-Old Sister.

Kevin: Imagine that I let you borrow $50, but in exchange for my generosity, you promise to pay me back the $50 with an extra $10 in interest. To make sure you pay me back, I take your Charizard Pokémon card as collateral.

Olivia: Kevin, I don't play Pokémon anymore.

Kevin: I'm getting to that. Let's say that the Charizard is worth $50, so in case you decide to not return my money, at least I'll have something that's worth what I loaned out.

Olivia: Okay.

Kevin: But one day, people realize that Pokémon is stupid and everyone decides that the cards are overvalued. That's right -- everybody turned twelve on the same day! Now your Charizard is only worth, say, $25.

Sunnier Days...

Maggie's best friend is looking threadbare these days.  She loves to carry it around, though. 


Mom ran into my old high school friend Chad today at her doctor's appointment. 

"I gave him your phone number so he could call you," mom told me. "I always liked Chad."

A few hours later, Chad did call me.  It was good catching up on things past.  He assured me he was clean and sober.  The last time I saw him years ago he was high on drugs.

It turns out our lives are similar.  He is on disability for a mental illness and living with his mother.  I called it symmetry between him and I.  At least I have my own house.

We talked a lot of our hobbies.  His is music and guitar playing.  Mine is model railroading and rail fanning.   We talked of getting together soon just to talk over coffee and catch up on the many years that have past since we last saw each other. 

Isn't it funny how life works?  A few days ago I was lamenting the fact that I have few real life friends.  Now?  In two days I have made one new friend and got caught up with another who was long lost.   

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Verbose Kind of Guy...

Today, I was walking out of the noon AA meeting I like so much.  A fellow followed me to my car.  He had heard me share and said he took a lot of solace from my life experiences. 

"I have a mental illness, too!" he told me very animatedly.  "Bi-polar."

It is not often someone will blurt out such a thing to a stranger.  My "normal" person persona defensively went on guard. 

The fellow went on to talk for another 30 minutes about his life.  I couldn't help but keep watching my watch.  I was hungry and thirsty, and just generally wanted to be home. 

"Thank you," the young guy said as he closed his conversation.  "I needed someone to talk to."

I wished him luck and we exchanged phone numbers.  I was glad I had stayed and listened to him instead of making up some excuse to drive home.  I could see us becoming friends and he seemed like the aggressive kind of person that someone with social anxiety needs to bring them out of their shell.  I keep reminding myself that by helping others in AA, that I am helping myself as well.  I hope I helped that fellow by lending my ear.   

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bed Head...

Mom came by this afternoon on her way to get her hair done.  I couldn't help but laugh when I opened the door.

"Mom, you have the worst case of bed head I have ever seen!" I told her snickering.

"Is is that bad?" she asked, laughing.

"You should have looked in the mirror before leaving."

Mom got in my bathroom and got her hair fixed somewhat better.  I see this as one of the negative symptoms of mom's schizophrenia.  She used to would never leave the house like that before her breakdown.   Now, it is as if she just no longer cares what the public thinks.  I can understand how she feels. 

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Belly Laughs...

Two young boys walked into a pharmacy one day, picked out a box of tampons and proceeded to the checkout counter.

The man at the counter asked the older boy, 'Son, how old are you?'

'Eight', the boy replied.

The man continued, 'Do you know what these are used for?'

The boy replied, 'Not exactly, but they aren't for me. They're for him. He's my brother. He's four. We saw on TV that if you use these, you would be able to swim and ride a bike.'
Hat tip to Kristi at Living Life in Tx

Simple Treasures...

You know your life is simple when a friend brings you Diet Cokes and you get tears in your eyes you are so happy.  I was so excited early this morning when Charlie pulled up.  Maggie alerted me when she started to whine loudly in the den.  She adores Charlie.

"I've come with gifts," Charlie said snarkily as I opened my door.

Charlie handed me a 12-pack of Diet Cokes and I thanked him profusely and gave him a hug. 

"I am cooking steaks on the grill this afternoon," Charlie also said. "I'll bring you and Maggie a meal around five."

Then Charlie totally surprised me and cut my and Joyce's grass.  It is just something I can't do because of my panic attacks.  Every time I try, it brings one on.

I've been busy this morning.  I cooked a good, healthy breakfast and started on laundry.  I also have a bad habit of leaving drinking glasses around the house.  I gathered them up and washed them in my dishwasher.  It is the start to a good and  productive day if I can resist the Internet.   

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Laid Out!

Where I would be sitting if I watched game day football.  I am too interested in all the flirting happening on Twitter in real time.  (Maggie's currently watching The Weather Channel.  It lulls her to sleep.  Like she needs any help!)

Cotton for the Looms of West Point...

I sat down at the railroad museum this morning watching as they painted the old 50 foot boxcar in the "Cotton for the Looms of West Point" paint scheme. I grew so excited to see something unfurl before my eyes that I haven't seen since I was a child.

Maybe it was a kinder, gentler era, but my family always let me wander the tracks when I was a child. I would ride my bike down. Chain it to a post. And lose hours with my trusty Olympus 35mm camera. Mom still has a photo album with all the pictures I took, and it has become a valuable resource in modeling the CHV.


I am feeling kind of shaky today. Not bad, but I could use my medications. I am hesitant to call Charlie and bother him, but would be elated if he drove by and let me take my medicines early. They would make me sleepy, and I would probably go to bed. It is just one of those days I would rather sleep away than spend hours milling about doing nothing. It is going to be a long afternoon without them.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thank You!

I don't do this enough, but I'm doing it now.  Thank you to those of you that stop by, read, and leave comments.  You mean the world to me and your patronage does as well.  There have been some lonely days where a few comments, helpful comments kept me from pulling my hair out or made me smile.  It seems we are all in this grand experiment called life together.   It makes it easier to know you are not going it alone!   

The Great Escape!

Maggie has met her match!  Hat tip to Dooce

Don't You Love Her Face?

Early Morning Employment...

I had to go in to work early this morning.  I remember rolling out of the bed to a shrill phone ringing thinking who could that be?  It was my father's co-pharmacist.  Dad is out of town. 

"The computers are down and we just opened the store!" she told me excitedly. "I can't fill any prescriptions!"

I threw on some clothes and drove down.  I noticed how cool it was this morning and it made me smile. Before leaving, I took the time to brew some coffee and it hit the spot today.

When I got to the store, the solution was simple.  Somehow, the Internet modem and router had become unplugged.  I plugged it in and they were back online in seconds.  As usual, it really is usually something that simple when I get these calls.

"I'd pay you, but your father would hate me," Angie said as I was leaving.

"Two cold Coca-Colas will do," I replied understandingly as I smiled.

Those were the best two cokes I have drank in forever.  It is the simple pleasures for me these days.    

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I was sitting at a stop light near the interstate this morning.  There were cars all around me.  Suddenly, I felt like my car was moving and the cars around me were moving.  I panicked and pressed the brake peddle as hard as I could.  In realty? I wasn't moving.  It was my mind telling me we were moving.  Then I got motion sickness just sitting there.

The light turned green.  I hit the gas and immediately pulled into a gas station to gather myself.  I scrounged up some change in my car to buy a coke.  I was sweating profusely on a chilly day.  It scared me to death. 

I am still not sure if this was schizophrenia symptoms or just some anomaly.  I dare not tell the doctor or my parents as they will try to take my car away.  It scared me to death, though.

You know?  Joyce would sometimes walk out of her house naked talking crazy shit, I hate God, etc.  Then, she would get dressed and go drive around the Valley while smoking cigarettes and talking to herself.  I used to shudder at her doing so being so crazy, but I now understand how she felt about her car and driving.  I don't want them to take away my car either. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Favorite Maggins Photo...

The Long Winding Road...

Wanda coerced me into going to the 10 AM AA meeting in a local town.  It was a long drive and I didn't want to go.  I was glad I went once I got there and the meeting started, though.  Lots of good things were shared and it tended to be older AA members with a lot of sobriety. 

I got home and frantically called mom.  I had forgotten she was buying my groceries today instead of tomorrow.  Mom and dad are going to Nashville for the Vanderbilt/Auburn game. 

"I'm getting my hair done at 12:30 and then I am going to get your groceries," she told me.

I sighed in relief. 

I feel good today (knock on wood).  I slept well last night.  It is amazing what my injection can do for me.