The Monk Hangs Up His Habit

Gregory sleep at the gates of the Pittsburg BART station at 4:30 a.m. I later took him to breakfast after a long walk in the dark. I myself, had slept in the long coat behind some excellent shrubbery.

“I started reading[Sansadobe] because it was such a stark mixture of honesty and humanity interspersed with an often stunning cluelesness” ~A loyal reader.

It’s over. Last post. I have been homeless for a year and I have found out what I needed to find out probably the only way possible. Maybe not for you, but for me. (You might wanna put on the soundtrack to Crazy Heart while reading)

I have seen things you would never believe, experienced terrors I can still not describe, joys beyond measure and some of the most amazing friends have joined me on this utterly insane journey. The above quote really does pretty much sum it up.

I have been as utterly honest and vulnerable as I know how…which is considerable. I have also, at times been utterly deluded, completely self-absorbed, pre-suicidal (just one night) and often either hospitalized (at least six times I remember) or in some of the best health of my life.

I have seen a whole huge population of this country up close and lived as a simple member of “them”. I like them. I love them. I will always be a part of them now.

Clearing Some things Up

City Team and Portland.

Actually we start with Union Gospel Mission, which is a four-year CULT. After a month I fled to City Team where I lived like a monk for seven months.

City Team means well and does well. They gave me the gift of six months total sobriety and better still PROVED that if you actually work the 12 Steps of AA you can have a daily reprieve from addiction to alcohol or drugs. That is, if your only issue is addiction.

Beyond that they are clueless and seriously in denial about the very real health issues both of the homeless and of addicts.

Clueless. Their success rate (by their standards) while I was there was maybe 10%. I’m sure they count me a failure (fine by me). They did me fine despite being threatened three times, denied doctor-ordered care for a month and denying me meds they should have known full well were necessary.

Let’s get this one thing over with: Roger. The acting/working director is bi-polar, just as I am. He had no qualms about denying me my bi-polar meds (at a cost of maybe $100 month) but he would not attempt to run the minstry for three days without his. He also put me at peril by denying me doctor ordered rest when I had pneumonia and then bronchitis or a MONTH.

Here is the deal with Rog. In my mind he should have an honorary doctorate for his deft knowledge on Recovery and addiction. Truly genius. But when it comes to any medial issue he is like a Jr. High school gym teacher whose solution to leukemia is to order you to”take a lap”.

He is that clueless. I was coughing up blood and in agony and they said if I didn’t “man up” I would have to leave once I recovered.

Does that make any sense to anyone?

(Hey…I am brilliant in some areas too and utterly clueless myself in others, no?)

They need a medical doctor volunteering to come in once a week and they need to OBEY him to the letter.

I Left Too Early

The Good side: I experienced that AA can “work if you work it”. Prior to City Team I had attended meetings. It is utterly different to actually work the program.

Bad side:  I was gonna have to deal with the other half of my problem (bi-polar 2) eventually.

Had they also enrolled me in a “Dual Diagnosis” program and kept me on my meds? Totally different result. Didn’t happen. Was not going to happen except by crashing.

I would not wish such a “crash” on my worst enemy (if I had one, which I do not).

Ever have a 20 minute panic attack? Try a six-hour version in a city where you are suddenly alone, wet, cold and without resources because you “failed” one day.

Thank God for my mother allowing me to come to Eugene for a period of time and then for ALL the myriad of people who in concert (but unknown to each other) helped me get back here to Marin where I am safe, in AA, headed to a dual diagnosis program and, after 18 straight days, the depakote has finally laced itself into my biochemistry so that it is a part of my working general neuro-chemistry (it takes that long).

I FEEL different and I am THINKING different.

And it is warmer here the “Long Coat” has about given up the ghost. It is like an old dog you probably should “put down” but cannot bear the thought of actually doing so.

Monk-dom and Service

Anyone who knows me knows I use to have a problem not just with alcohol, but also with women. I needed them to like me.

I cannot remember the last time I touched a woman or one touched me in any meaningful way. I have lived utterly celibate not just in body but also in mind (I kid you not. I have not even fantasized). I wanted to learn what it was like to live on the love of God and I was amazed. I have never felt such love before and no women past, present or future will ever be able to match it because they were never supposed to!

It has been wonderful to be free of the love of woman (in that sense). To not have to alter myself or try and impress or even flirt.

I was tempted once in Portland (just to flirt) because the woman in question is so beautiful in mind, heart and well…pretty much everything. And I admire her. So after attending a class she lead (and now she  knows it is her because she reads this and we are friends…but she also understands that “purity of heart is to will one thing”..hehe) I was walking back to the Mission and I stopped still in my tracks at the first selfish hint and prayed “Lord…make my heart utterly pure and good towards (unnamed) so that only good comes from knowing me and vice-versa.” And my heart took that nice little turn towards gift-love and stayed there.

Saaaaweeeetah.

I gave her a gift before I left that was very meaningful to me to make and she received it in the same innocence.

So sweet time communing with God and a freedom I had not yet known.

What I Miss and Regret

I deeply miss Robert the Gangl (my Patowan) , Jesse Hebner, his brother Joel (I called him “Wan” because I was “Schech-“) and also Colin (and oddly Tim…who sort of sneaks up on your heart) . Then Kasey from the Imago Dei Kierkegaard class.

But Robert doesn’t know yet we are not nearly done (Jesse does, as does, I suspect Tyler and Jared). I think it just because I really hurt him by leaving.

That’s it….oh and my glasses (I am still walking around blind).

I regret not FORCING the issue with City Team management on medical issues not only for myself but others. Others will suffer because I lacked courage.

What I Do Not Regret

I never lied. Not even once. I served with heart, faith and no small amount of daily effort or sacrifice and I LOVED the honor of doing so.

So now I am done. I could tell you about my horrendous 15 hour day today that started on 3 hours clseep and almost ended in my NOT getting my meds.

People were better for knowing me there. I am better for knowing so many of them and I am better being here where I can address my WHOLE situation in a totally healthy, open and grace-filled way.

New church (St. John’s Episcopal), soon new digs, new jobs. I will not be homeless much longer which is why I am stopping this blog.

I’m done. Time to move on into new territory where I a not the center of my own attention.

You have all been a lovely audience. You can still read me here and there on things way outside of ME at blogs I will list tomorrow. I am tired. God is good. he has gifted me with a new start, an almost superhuman ability to recover rapidly for savagely physical attacks and infirmities (a week ago I was half dead…now I am walking 5-7 miles a day easy, and sometimes it has been with full bags…unreal. Detox is usually 7-21 days. I was out after four). I cannot take credit for any of it..not even my own willingness to continue on.

Goodnight Sweet Ones.

Dinner by Whole Foods...Curry chicken, brie, chutney and fresh blueberrie sandwich, Acai smoothie, crab salad. I may be broke (utterly...but I have food stamps as of today...)

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Never met a Person Who was Not a mess

LIFE

Not one, Not you. If I now you, you’re a mess.

Okay, I Know Darrell Johnson…he is not a mess…but he makes his life such. So it goes.

I love people and the are such effed up. Grace will save them all.

I once loved a woman more that any many I have known.  I wanted to grow old with her. Love of my life. She won’t acknowledge me now. Its okay. In time and beyond space she will get it

But not now. Not ever…here.

Faith, hope, love..these three abide way beyond me or you. Count on it.

I am dust.

~Mac

This is what it takes…

Funny no hearts for me...

Two emergency room visits…8.9 mikes of walking, 4 bags of saline, some grace from my son. a possible referal to 7 days of detox (please if John Helicx in SF will finally have me…I have waited SOOOOO long).I have been treted with undeniable grace the last weeks.

It is BOTH my fault I decided to drink at 18) and not my fault at all (I am dual diacosgnosed Bi-polar 2). No on knew.

We are i’ ll gonna die. Me probably wayy sooner than you. But have hope sweet ones. Nothing is ultimately tragic given His resurrection. You are loved.

I said a cruel think to my Dad the other day. I was true…but I regretted it because it showed disrespect and you she never show your father disrespect.

Did my di teach me this? No. My Father in heaven did forhim.

So he said “yer gonna die!”  probably ture. . The I shot back “Yer 81…you’ll die before me.”

Disrespect. Rude and immature for me.

Only God orders these things.

But my Father in heaven was right. I disrespected my father on earth…and …shit…now i have to repent even though I am near death myself.

I will be dead soon enough. Then resurrected to new life in Christ. I wish I had done better…truly. I throw myself on love and grace.

This Road Trip Brought to you by…

“The true test of brotherhood is not when men succeed, but when they fail” ~Me.

As the Amtrak train moves over the lazy river and away from Sacramento I am reflecting on all the people who have been a part of my journey from Portland back to San Rafael. It is an impressive array of very old friends,  and some new ones, peppered with complete strangers all of who were agents of the grace and mercy of God to me.

Credit Where Credits are Due

"A Moose Once Bit My Sister..."

Without further ado then, I give you the credits for this trip, both to show my gratitude and also to prove I am regaining my sense of humor.

They are in chronological order of sorts (using first names only as some may wish some level of anonymity when it comes to associating themselves with my debacle):

Pre-trip motel accommodations

Patty

Transportation from Portland to Sacramento

Devin

Catering (Starbucks)

Judith

Special Amrak stop in Mt. Shasta

Amtrak staff

Special Horizontal Sirenic Transport to Mt. Shasta General

Mt. Shasta EMT

Intravenous fluids and nights shirts

Nurse Arlene

Initial medical assessment

Dr. Molly

Knock-out drug

Mystery Anesthesiologist

Upper GI Camera operator

Dr. Steven

Catering (jello & broth)

Mt. Shasta General kitchen

Spiritual counsel (Mt. Shasta) & communications

Chaplain Ray

Medical prescriptions

Chaplain Ray

Spongebath

Nurse Bev

Transportation to Amtrak (Mt. Shasta)

Chaplain Ray

Transportation in Sacramento

Stephen

Running around town to County agencies

Stephen

Spiritual Counsel & Communications (Sacramento)

Stephen and Brent

Motel Accommodations (Sacramento)

Warehouse Christian Ministries

Catering (Perkos)

Warehouse Christian Minstries

Catering (Starbucks)

Judith

Non-catering (no coffee or juice at breakfast bar)

Travelodge Micron Way

Special non-working door cards & wi-fi passes

Travelodge Micron Way

Special Non-Harmonious Barking Dog Effects Next Door till 2 a.m.

Travelodge Micron Way

Endless Amounts of Media to Pass Time (White Collar and Fringe episodes till my eyes bled)

Bittorrent

Gospel of St. John Biblical Elucidation

Stephen

Temporary Lightsaber (NIV Bible)

Stephen

Preaching

Ryan

“Socks and Poo-Poo Undies” from Ross

Stephen

Catering (Starbucks)

Judith

Encouragement calls to room

Fred, Leslie and Miles

Dining and Final Case Review

Stephen and Debbie

Transportation to Amtrak for final trip to Richmond

Stephen

Humorous Indonesian Travelogue

Stephen

Catering (Starbucks)  for Stephen & Mac

Judith

And there you have it. It does not name the amazing staff at Mt. Shasta General who literally treated me like Jesus Himself in their care, nursing me back to health

Also, special thanks to the Rev. Louis Neely, one of my most significant mentors, for unabashedly welcoming me to Sacramento and giving sanction to the detailed care and counsel I received there for five entire days (and at no small expense).

Toward Mental Health

"Would Mssr. like a wafer-thin mint?"

Now if that seems flippant, then perhaps it is. But I think a part of seeking mental health is a  healthy ability to laugh at oneself, even in dire circumstances. And I admit they have been dire. A week ago right now I was flat on my back awaiting a meeting with my doctor who was gonna knock me out and stick a scope down my throat and look at the inside of my stomach to see if I was still bleeding internally. The less said about what happened on the train the better except to say it was beyond scary. Any time I pull a train over it is a bona fide emergency.

The fact is it was only gonna get worse in Portland. With no way to deal effectively with my bi-polar issues, and no safe place to land, I was a greater risk staying than taking the chance to board the train and make it to Sacramento.

Now, a week later, I am healthy in body, heart and mind. Clear, relaxed and my meds are finally kicking in (for even a few days ago a day like today with all it’s uncertainty would have been way too much for me to handle).

Now I can take things one step at a time, and the plan was reviewed last night by both Stephen and his wife Debbie (also an old friend) at dinner. I am confident it is the right one, though I do not expect there will not be glitches and problems along the way.

My sincere hope is to end this blog in the next two months.

Why do I insist on writing so nakedly about this whole journey? Well, for one it helps me process. Second, it helps others who struggle to now they are not alone. Third, because I can and you probably cannot.

The Arrival

Wayne Thiebaud is awesome.

We are passing some of the sloughs and Delta waterways that Wayne Thiebaud (one of my favs) has painted in such amazing fashion. This path down I-80 is one I have known intimately for 33 years. It is best done by train.

The initial quote is something I want to discuss briefly.

It is in failure and in breakdown that you find out both what you are made of (and not made of) and also the true character of your friends.

People have one of three reactions. They engage you closer; the watch passively not knowing what to do, or they distance themselves like you have a spiritual or mental pathogen.

The best example is concerning prayer. Two different people say they will “pray for you” or are. One does so with a sense of calling, gravitas and openness to be led in such. Their concern has a weightiness to it.

The other is a simple sleight-of-hand dismissal.

I understand that some people are simply not able to engage much of anything that is weighty. Certainly not with the seriousness due it. And, frankly, my own admission of brokenness scares them because underneath they know they are just as broken, just in different ways.

I do not decide who is who. Never. Not my place. But I know that some of my friends fall into one category, and some into the other…with a healthy grouping inbetween.

When I left Cityteam it was hard on the men I had been with, but I doubt it stopped many of them from descending on my “stuff” like a band of carrions looking for some fresh meat.

We’ll see how much of my stuff was saved by my brothers. As I said, the true test of brotherhood is when you fail, not when you succeed. Anyone will love you when you succeed. True firneds love you regardless of your failures, stalls, stumbling, fallings or sins. That’s how Jesus has taught me how to love.

Portland: cold, wet and no one has any sense of direction.

I’m not bitter…it is just weird. I have never been so cold, wet and sleep dreprived as in Portland That and hen you ask any Portlander for directions they look suddenly like a deer in the headlights…”Nope…sorry, no idea where the Safeway or Starbucks is”.

Just weird. And consistant. Like 100 out of 100 times: “No idea…er, ahhh no”.

What I did get was six months sober, a real program and a renewed faith (which I needed badly).

Guess I am testing that faith now going blind to Sacto.

Son Thomas and a few others think it a mistake. Others think that is dorky. I cannot decide. But I tried to make a go of it here. I am just too cold, wet and inebriated.

And no one here is gonna be able to tell me where the Amtrack is…clueless.

__________________

Plan?

Get to Sacto and find a detox center that undertands bi-polarity. Give myself over. Let people there love me.

Get better. Not happening here. And CityTeam, for all their help, admits they cannot help me. I am too “big” (whatever that means).

The Jig is up…

Lost my cellphone and I am  fairly ruined…

People wished they helped Spalding Gray before he threw himself in The Hudson…. well here is your chance.

Care.

Spuddy

Spalding Gray was mentally ill.  I don’t wanna follow him.

I just lost my phone. It’s disturbing .

I just wanna gio home to Sacramento.

Chris