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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

King of Beers

Tucked against the brick of the garage wall and next to a planter full of pansies, it stands tall as a sentinel, the giant Budweiser bottle, empty and wearing its cap.  
Is it lost?  Who lost this beer bottle in my breezeway?  Was it left for me by a homeless one, grateful for having slept in the protection of the garage?  Nothing is missing, not even the pocket change I left on the little table.

Did he sleep on the floor or in my car?  No matter.  Was he here at all?  Of course he wasn't here.  He is a product of my imagination.  Or is he?

Who else would walk all the way from the street just to place this bottle so carefully, stage this scene?  What kind of person would do that? 

If Parrish were not in jail, I would immediately know it came from him, some sign that he was here though the judge forbade him to come to my house.

Does it mean anything?  Is it some sort of prank?  To what end?  If Israel found it in the yard, he would put it in the trash, not place it on the breezeway.  I am puzzled but not afraid.
There is nothing menacing about this beer bottle.  It is friendly and appears to be watching out for me.  I place it in the trash, wondering where it will end up next. 

© 2013 cj schlottman

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Relapse - Again

I am in the middle of a relapse.  There, I said it, as much as it pains me to admit it.  This morning I could not put my earrings in my lobes, and my fine motor skills are compromised except when I am typing my blog posts and my journal.  What does that say about my situation?  Does it mean that the only thing that can override my shakiness is my desire to communicate through the written word?  

My gait is almost staggering.

My memory is once more holding me back.  This afternoon at the pet store, I couldn’t remember the word “harness” when I decided to buy a new one for Honey.  The clerk looked at me skeptically as I struggled to remember the word and ended up walking to the display and showing her what I wanted.    

These symptoms do not define me.  They are not the measure of who I am or who I will be.  They are what they are.  

It came to me that my symptoms may be related to diet.  I don’t eat enough fresh and whole foods.  I don’t eat enough whole grains.  I don’t eat enough cold water fish.  I should concentrate more on preparing and consuming healthy foods.  

As proof of my compromised mental acuity, I will tell the story of locking the keys in my car at Harris Teeter this afternoon.  I didn’t take my phone into the store.  If it were in my pocket, I would have been able to open the car with OnStar.  But, the phone was parked right next to my keys.  I have no idea why I left it in the car.

I called Sea Island Security and they sent a car to fetch me and take me back to the house for my other set of keys.  A beautiful black man with shiny skin and a smile a foot wide drove me all the way to the north end of Sea Island and waited while I got the keys.  Then he drove me back.  My life is blessed with angels.

© 2013 cj schlottman

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Trip to Paradise

We left Macon at 4:45 and yesterday’s trip was about normal for me.  My usual trip anxiety set in and I had several errands to finish, including having the dogs bathed and making a trip all the way down to the vet’s office to get Belle’s arthritis medicine.  I was here before I realized I got the wrong dosage.  

I only left two things that are important:  my pain medicine and dog food.  

On the way down, I took a wrong turn in Jesup, of all places.  I have driven through that town what seems like 100 times without getting lost.  I turned at the wrong intersection and started down a road that immediately appeared unfamiliar.  So, I stopped for advice and was directed back the way I came.  Soon I was in familiar territory, and got back on track.  

After arriving on Saint Simons Island, I stopped at Harris Teeter for dog food and milk.  The wind was cold and blowing what felt like a gale, but it did not affect my joy at being on the coast again.

Sea Island Causeway leads to the guard house that sits just before Village Creek, the body of water separating the island from Saint Simons.  The guards are young with eager and shiny faces.  An attractive young man handed me my Sea Island pass, and I tossed it into the  windshield and drove the 37 or so blocks down Sea Island Drive to Ocean Forest, the gated and very exclusive community where my wonderful friend, Deidra, has a house.  It is at the end of the road and overlooks the Hampton River.  The dogs and I have the house to ourselves.   

It was dark at land’s end.  I got out and found the key, opened the house and turned on some lights.    Instead of leaving the dogs in the car, I let them out and into the house.  Stiff and sore from driving, I was slow to unload the few things I packed in my car.  The steps are steep, as are the stairs in the house.  Out of shape and already exhausted, I struggled with the stairs every time I climbed them.  I don’t know how many trips back and forth from the car it took to deliver our things up to my room. 

Belle was whining at the bottom of the stairs, and I assumed she was hungry.  I fed both of the dogs from the bag of dog food from Harris Teeter, but neither would eat it.  Since Baby’s medicine was not strong enough for her, I cut an aspirin in half and stirred it into her food.  She turned up her nose at it.  I resorted to mixing in some chicken noodle soup from a can.  No go.  Honey did eat her food after I put in the soup.  

I crawled back upstairs to find some Aleve and grab my iPad.  Belle pooped on the floor before I stumbled back down.  Thank God she missed the rug.  I cleaned up the mess and put both dogs on leashes and took them outside for a walk.  The wind nearly blew all of us off our feet, but we managed to stay out long enough for the dogs to finish their business.  

Since it was 9:00 PM when we arrived, bedtime came soon.  Honey and I went upstairs to get ready for bed, and before I could brush my teeth, Baby was back at the foot of the stairs, wailing.  I went down to encourage her to come up, but she refused.  She was afraid.  That fear, along with her crippling arthritis, grounded her.  I went back upstairs to finish my toilette, she continued to whine.  I left on my warmup pants and sweater and went down to sit with Belle until she fell asleep in her bed.

After an hour, Honey and I went back upstairs and were tucking ourselves in when the wailing began anew.  Down we went, and Honey and I fell asleep on the sofa.

© 2013 cj schlottman

Rest and Relax

I woke at 3:30, every bone and muscle screaming.  While Belle continued to sleep, Honey and I dragged ourselves upstairs and fell into bed.  

At 6:30 Belle was at the bottom of the stairs, howling.    I brushed my teeth to the song of her complaint and we were downstairs in just a few minutes.  Out the back door, the river rolled by and the weather was blustery and cold.  The dogs didn’t seem to mind, but the wind whipped my hair into my face, stinging it.  

The dogs were energized by the fresh and cool air, and they jumped around, entangling me in their leashes as I worked to keep my sweater wrapped around me and my hair out of my eyes.

With some effort, we disentangled without any major accident.  They dogs were not ready to leave the yard and continued to celebrate the fresh air.  I resorted to begging and bribing with the offer of food.

Again, neither dog would eat, and Belle needed her medicine.  In the pantry, I found a can of dog food especially made to sweeten their food.  It worked.

The rest of the day was devoted to settling in.  I could not find my dental guard, though I had worn it during the night, nor could I find the extra one I thought I packed.  I put away my clothes, and figured out how to work the TV.   

All of us were so tired from the trip and no sleep, the day was devoted to settling in to relax and enjoy the view across the river all the way to Little Saint Simons Island, and out over the Atlantic Ocean.  There was plenty of time for writing and napping.

Late in the afternoon, we walked down lush Ocean Forest Drive, and on the way back, I pulled Spanish moss off of some trees and brought it to the house.  I’m going to take it home and see if it will grow in my back yard.  
In an effort to find myself I’m reading the Diamond is your Pocket by Gangaji.  I hope I will acquire some knowledge that makes my life better.  I’ll write a book review on The Red Sweater.

© 2013 cj schlottman

Peace and Beauty

Until today, Belle was unable to overcome her fear of the stairs.  This is our third full day here, and she is gingerly navigating the steep stairs.  Coming down is the hard part.  Tonight I will take her bed to our room and we will all sleep better.

Today is even more beautiful than yesterday.  The air is clear and bright and smells of the sea.  Our little parade of three marches in an early walk under the canopy of trees.  This is one of the most beautiful places I have been, and it dazzles me every time I come here.  On a previous visit, I saw Wood Storks and a Bald Eagle but this time the blustery weather has precluded birdwatching. 

I tried to read on the deck, but the dogs couldn’t get settled and I had trouble seeing the pages of my book.  We came inside and, like every other room in this house, the living room has terrible lighting for reading.  So, I went to Amazon and downloaded the Kindle edition of my book and began to read.  Wonderful.  Now I can read.  E-books are a miracle for me and my eyes.  

Introspection is growing out of the Diamond in your Pocket.  I find myself looking inward after reading only a portion of the book.  Peace and happiness are in me, but I will not find them by searching.  I must accept them, allow myself to open up and let them just be.

©2013 cj schlottman

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Leaving the Jail

From the jail I drove to the Post Office to mail a birthday card to Cuz.  I sat in my car for a while listening to the long version of “American Pie” and trying to wipe my mind clear of the scene at the jail.  It didn’t work.  I finally got out of the car and went in the Post Office and mailed the card. 

I wanted to drive home, undress and put on my gown and crawl into bed with Honey.  The pull toward my house was like an under-toe, strong and cold.  I started in the direction of home but managed to veer onto I-75 in the direction of Kristy’s office.  I promised her some cauliflower soup I made the day before.  

We sat outside and smoked and I told her the story of my visit to the Parrish at the jail.  I flashed back to the concrete room echoing the screams of small children and wondered again what they were doing in a jail.  I was clearly undone, and Kristy is a kind listener, so I left for WalMart with some sense of relief that I had her support.  She has been supportive of me all along, but I had an aching need for confirmation.

The visage of Parrish’s unshaven face behind the thick dull glass followed me everywhere I went, even to WalMart.  Once there, I maintained some sense of organization and was out of there quickly.  

I was back home for the Falcons’ game and spent the afternoon hiding behind football, Words with Friends and cryptograms.  

Thank God for Cymbalta.  Since I started taking it, my mind is clearer and more organized than in a year and a half.  My problem solving skills are sharp, and I can stay focused on this horrible predicament without bursting into tears.     

When I went to bed, Parrish’s face, just his face, hovered over my comforter.  I drove it out by sheer will and determination and began to wonder if my visit to the jail was wise.
The last few paragraphs were written in the waiting room of my therapist’s office.  I had an appointment there.  Right?  Wrong.  I had a rheumatology appointment at 2:00.  My therapist is tomorrow.  I do not know what woke me up, but I rechecked my calendar and learned of my mistake.  

I was 15 minutes late arriving at the rheumatologist’s office, and the receptionist would not say I could be out in time for a 4:00 appointment with an attorney who is going to help me deal with the Parrish situation.  
I suggested I reschedule.  The receptionist told me to sit down and talk to bah-blah blah about the appointment.  I have sat here for 20 minutes while the doctor takes all the patients who were already in the waiting room when I got here.  There are two new ones.  Clearly I will not be seen before my next appointment.
I rescheduled and drove home, fed the dogs, then drove to Chuck Lanford’s office.  It is interesting.  The front door, showing multiple layers of chipped paint, is pocked with what looks like areas where the paint was assaulted by a screwdriver.

I walked into the waiting room to find a shabby but warm space with stacks of Reader’s Digests on the tables.  I waited on a comfortable green sofa, and surveyed the room.  It is decorated with dead turkeys and ducks.  One of the attorneys’ desks is in the waiting room.  I actually know her and we chatted for a while.

The attorney, Chuck Lanford, is the son of one of Clint’s friends, and for years the two men and their sons (including Parrish) went on an annual fishing trip with a whole crowd of other fathers and sons.  It is nice to deal with someone with whom I have some connection. 

Chuck advised me to seek guardianship of Parrish as a first step toward getting him to a safe place.  In the past, I was leery of guardianship, thinking it would make me responsible for his actions and criminal activity.  Chuck assured me that it did not.

He filled out a long document requesting the guardianship and I signed it and left, promising to drop by a check for $1500.00 tomorrow.

Shortly after I returned home, Parrish called wanting to know what Chuck said.  I could feel his back go up when I explained that I am seeking guardianship.  He insisted that he would not go to hospital.  He said he had lined up a boarding house through another inmate.  

Chuck is planning to visit Parrish and talk to him and work out what he wants.  This takes a great deal of weight off of me.  My son is beginning to see me as the enemy.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Screaming Kids at the Bibb County Jail

The building is concrete block painted a harsh shade of orange-brown.  A few people mill around in the parking lot, smoking, their faces drawn.

Inside, two women sit at a desk beside the metal detector.  They check my ID and take my keys.  I walk through the detector, setting off its cold and judging beep.  One of the women takes a scanning rod and swipes it up and down my sides.  It sounds sharply as she moves it over the button of my jeans.  She directs me to the elevator, I step inside and touch “2.”

Again, concrete block for walls, and a wide hall that smells of dirt.  The floor is damp, adding to the pungent stink, and I walk several yards toward the open door on the right.  I second guess my decision to come. 

Before I reach the door, my ears are assaulted by the screams and screeches of several small children.  When I enter the room, the sounds echo off the walls in an ear splitting cacophony.  What are they doing here?  Their mothers and grandmothers are oblivious to the noise, but they see that I need help, and shout to offer it.

“Did you come to see a man or a woman?” a large woman with a worn face asks.  Her eyes are kind and reflect a kindred spirit.  When I tell her I have come to visit my son, she points me to the wall where the phone booths are lined up, each with a chair and a phone on the left wall.

I see Parrish walk up the stairs and sit across from me on the other side of the dull glass.  His face is unshaven and gaunt.  He has lost weight in the last four weeks, but his eyes are clear, if a little wild.  He picks up the receiver on his side. pushes a button and says, “Hey, Mama.  How are you?”
How in the name of God can I ask him how he is doing when there is nothing remotely good or normal about his situation?  I search my mind for another way to begin the conversation but fail and ask the insane question.
“I’m in jail, Mama.”

Humbled, I admit the stupidity of my question and try to think of something to say.  I struggle to hear him over the chaos behind me, where the children run up and down the hall, squealing and stomping.  

Parrish takes the lead, asking me to drop the trespassing charges so I can bail him out.  He asks this question in every letter he sends me, and I tell him again that I cannot help him out of jail until he has a safe place to go.  He takes the remark in stride, seems resigned to my decision.  

“I’m doing everything I can to line up a lawyer who takes cases like yours.  I think I have found one, but we have to be patient.”

I ask him if he will consider going to a hospital for a time when he is released.  He warily asks me how long he will have to stay.  Knowing that I am being less than truthful, I explain that he will only stay as long as he needs to be there, that we will need a judge to order his admission.  
He bristles and says he won’t stay in hospital for a year, and I gently assure him that it will be better than this filthy jail, that he will receive the treatment and medication he so desperately needs.  I ask for his patience and willingness to keep an open mind.
We are exhausted, and he wants to know the time.  It is time to eat and he has to go downstairs before they take up his food.             

“I love you.”
“I love you, too.” 

The blasting racket fades as I walk back to the elevator.