Monday, October 29, 2012

The Army Of Stupid strikes again

Some floating head with no awareness of who I am or what I'm about, who covets her position of authority at Corrections Heaven with all the greedy self-interest the lowest order of humans can muster, has decided that I should not be allowed to remain in association with the Mennonite Church Circle of Support Creative Exchange or Dismas Fellowship communities because of imagined conflict of interest issues.

You see, if I'm championing community safety and offender reintegration efforts on more than one front, no matter how harmonious, then obviously I'm going to make friendee-friends with Club Fed tenants and before you know it I'll be helping them smuggle whores and cocaine into the centre and driving the get-away cars for their bank robbing sprees...

The dullness of this decision; the soft thinking; it's so... typical.

The amount of good I was doing and could have continued doing was very significant. I will not be falsely humble about that. It's bad enough that the Army of Normal does not value this; that I must lose money in order to do this. That the Army of Normal must put a stop to it altogether is tragic.

Contracted employees in effect have no rights at all. My employer is powerless to help me. The union is powerless. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is powerless. Freedom of Association means nothing. Any contracted employee can be dismissed at the whim of the client for any or no reason whatsoever.

I have not given in. But I must consider my moves carefully. For now, NaNoWriMo approaches and I will lose myself in my writing for a month.

My patience for this spun-out-of-control society has worn threadbare. We are the worst slaves to ass-backward instinct in the entire world of humans I would bet. Of no more significance or use to the world than wolves or vultures or parasites.

If it weren't for Neo I'd be gone. I would go the way of the alchemist. I would vanish without good-byes. And somewhere far away, in the third world, a new man would appear, evolution complete; a silent man with a strange name he would not speak.

"For the first time he contemplated, lovelessly but with pity, the lamentable human flock, born to graze and die."
- George Bernanos

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Wendy saves the day

Want to hear about my super special day? Here it is in a nutshell:

Woke up with a headache that stretched all the way down the side of my face to my jaw, and kept it the rest of the day. So what does that mean? Do I have bed bugs or something? Do bedbugs have one enormous fist which they use to sock their sleeping hosts in the jaw?

Got to the Princess of Schools to discover I forgot my school key. Fine. Just had to canvas random staff to open doors for me as necessary. Oh - and what's this? No wonder my laptop bag seemed so lightweight. Not because I've turned into Mr. Universe. No. It's because I forgot to put the laptop in it. So now my prepared 'lesson plans' are up in smoke and I have to improvise for the day. Fine.

At the end of the day I discover that my planned visit for next week falls on Halloween day which is bad news. The school agenda goes a bit haywire for pumpkin day. By a great stroke of non-luck, three of the remaining four days that week are in fact three of the four days of the ten-day cycle which I have agreed not to interrupt with reader/writer group schedules. That leaves only Friday which is the only day of the week I personally can not do. So now I'm staying late negotiating with the art teacher so that I may come on one of the forbidden days. Luckily the art teacher is an excellent young gentlemen and we hammer out a deal. But now I'm running a tad late. I have to get home and pick up the Liberal Theologian. We have a write-in planned with the Crisco Kid.

Booting home along the highway I see by the clock on the dash that I am going to make it on time. No problemo. Except that what I didn't see on the dash was the fuel gauge which was very politely and quietly reading WAY below the red zone.

I managed to run out of gas right at an off-ramp where I could easily access the local neighbourhood. On foot. In the rain. I knocked on the window of the first house and was greeted immediately by a pair of large barking dogs and soon after by a woman who looked about as pleased to see me on her porch as she would a creeping loping undead swamp beast.

I yelled through the firmly closed door that my car broke down and could she please call me a cab. She did so.

Cabbed it to the gas station and purchased a gas can and tried to call the Liberal Theologian collect (no change or credit card) to warn her I'd be late and not to worry, but her telephone account is set to automatically decline collect calls. Fine. Let my absence be a mystery.

I arrive home exactly the time we were supposed to be at the write-in cafe. So we'll be late. Fine. On the way there, cruising down the middle-right lane of main street; a very busy five-lane affair, I spot a man stumbling backward off the curb, trying to regain his balance. He stumbles all the way into my lane, falling on his back. I'm all over the brakes and stopping just in time while Drunken Asshole #9 lies there looking at his cell phone/blueberry/whatever and while my passenger goes into anxiety attack mode.

"Call the police please," I say. "He needs to be picked up before he gets killed or else causes an accident." But her cell phone is missing from her purse.


We make it to the cafe without further incident. And find that it is mysteriously dark inside. And also closed. Remind me why I got out of bed today?

So we go to the Mulberry; the next most obvious write-in venue and the Crisco kid is not present. Turns out that he was taking his time and was about to show up there looking for us - right after we left.

Meanwhile we picked up some Wendy's take-out and went home. And miracle of miracles: They actually, for once, got our order right.

Heh. Go figure.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The two of us

There are four different routes that I take to get home from Club Fed.  I like variety. Sunday morning I'm on the route which takes me past  St. Joseph's Villa nursing home which was Biodad's home for several months as he adjusted to life with an artificial leg. Now I am thinking about him  for the remaining three minutes of the trip home.

Though we resided so close I did not once visit him. We have not spoken in two years. For that three minute drive I ponder the situation. He moved back home five weeks prior and two weeks prior I received a phone call from our mutual friend, his best pal, Vee. Biodad had asked for my phone number. I gave her permission to give it to him. So far he had not called or at least had not left a message. I decided on that Sunday morning drive that I would give him a call.

Why? Because I wanted to see him? Not particularly. But because I wanted to clear the air so to speak. To at least allow him the chance to understand my perspective; that in essence, we have proven ourselves useless to each other.

But I will not be making that phone call. As soon as I arrived home Sunday morning the phone rang. It was my cousin Lisa; always the  bearer of family news. While I was deciding that I would make that call, Biodad was already gone.

Two years ago I walked away from him. There were no sacrifices left  for me to make for him, and he had treated me poorly. I wrote him off for dead and I never thought he'd last this long.

At Grandma's house where the family initially gathered, at Biodad's rental house, where friends gathered, at the funeral and the subsequent celebration; all these people; I had to endure their condolences though I, in no way, was entitled to any comfort.

I abandoned him. I will not miss him very much I don't suppose. I am not deserving of comfort. I must face the reality that there was more I could have done, if I had chosen, which would have made his final days, perhaps months, more comforting. I must not escape the consequences of my choices no matter how much that goes against the standard perversity of our society; a society of constant rationalization.

It is Vee who needs the comfort; her who should have sat in the front row at the service instead of me. I have spent much time with her this week. I went to her not knowing how she would feel about me. If she hated me; if she wanted to take a swing at me, well then I would let her. If that would help her feel better.

She watched bioddad hasten his death for three days. She suffers the perceived guilt that she called 9-1-1 too late to save his life. He fought the authorities tooth and nail, then succumbed just after arrival at the  hospital. And worse; yes, worse: the guilt that she called 9-1-1 too early. Her best friend spent his last moments spitting every vulgar name he knew at her; furious that she ruined everything. He just wanted to die at home with his dog, Charlie.

His only other communication during his final days was a single text  message to a friend. A one-character message. A period.

He emerged into childhood the very same way I did, abandoned by an alcoholic father, and all for the best, so to clear the way for another man, one more qualified, to eventually do the job of  fathering. I know well the bond between a mother and son who form a family just the pair, at least for a while.

Biodad had no savings nor do I. His funeral was inexpensive to say the least. Grandma will keep his ashes and one day they will be blended with her own.

"It started out just the two of us," she said. "That's how it will end."

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's a dangerous world out there

Had to renew my First Aid certificate today, with a full-day session at St. John's Ambulance. I scored 100% on the test despite missing a couple lessons while sitting in the bathroom. My tummy wasn't in the best of moods and I'm sure the colourful amputation videos did nothing to calm it.

The questions were all multiple choice; four options each, of which at least two would be altogether stupid. In every scenario I answered the question as if I intended to be helpful. Had every answer set included "e) Run screaming from the room"  I probably would have scored a tidy zero.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Back inside

I approach the intercom box hopeful that the voice on the other side will be that of a semi-normal human being and not another human-demon hybrid campaigning for Ass Hole Of The Century honours.

"Yes. Can I help you?"

So far so good! "I'd like to visit an inmate please?"

"Name of the inmate?"

"Hendricks. First name Speedy."

"One moment."

Finally the big door clicks. I wonder, for too long, if this is some mechanical language that I'm supposed to respond to. Finally I reach for the door but it's clickness expires as I do so. Denied.

"Come on in," says the intercom lady and the door clicks again.

Inside the mantrap, my pocket accessories are emptied onto a tray below a window where Intercom Lady peers through at them.

I walk through the gun detector and it goes off. But they don't pre-emptively shoot me to ribbons, thank god. They confirm with me that I'm wearing a metal belt buckle and then click me through the inner door.

The visiting hours are very narrow and specific for different inmate "groups" and are available online. I had thought that it was nice of me to look up the specifics online rather than just call and make an operator tell me all the relevant details. But the Demon-Human was not impressed with me and barked, "A NAME would be helpful!" before I could finish getting the question out of my mouth. And then when I tried to clarify the 2-visit-per-week-per-inmate rule he barked at me again. "You just come down here and take your chances!"

"Oh...kay... Bye now." Sorry for ruining your day, Buster.

I'm still thinking of sending a resume to the Scooterville Detention Centre outlining my guard experience at the Community Corrections Centre and then outlining what a complete bitch I'm prepared to be, since I assume that's what they desire in an employee.

Beyond the mantrap I'm still separated from Intercom Lady by glass but there's a slot for me to submit my ID. They log who I am and my relation to their guest. "Acquaintance," I said.

She gives me directions which prove very difficult to follow because there are more doors along the way than she let on and none of them are marked with the signs which she thinks exist - and perhaps once did exist back when she was new and alert and not dulled by Prison Malaise Syndrome.

[Editor's Note: He made that up. PMS stands for something else entirely.]

There are two more controlled-access points; big barred gates, before I find my way into the correct visiting room and to station number three which lacks any label whatsoever. I calculate its position thanks to labels 5 and 6 surviving nearby.

It's just like on TV. Speedy finally approaches dressed in his finest safety-orange overalls, takes a seat on the other side of the thick glass and we each pick up a phone handset. Speedy is all smiles. He wasn't sure he'd ever see me again. He never expected any visitors. Mom and sis live on the other side of the city and he had told them not to trouble themselves with the journey for a twenty-minute-limit visit. (Ribbitt.)

Speedy looks good. He's been taking his meds and getting sleep and besides that, twiddling his thumbs. He's taking the opportunity to try to quit smoking since he has no choice anyway. It's entirely banned in Canadian prisons.

He wants to talk about the events that led up to his arrest and removal from Corrections Heaven, events that include marijuana and the busting of a window. He feels he got the shaft; that he had earned the privelege of a single breakdown. He'd caused not an ounce of trouble before. We'll overlook that time when he was ardently claiming his family had all been taken by aliens and replaced by clones. He had to go away for a little while...

But I repeatedly steer him away from his complaints. We're on the clock. I manage to learn that he will be shipped back to Kingston within a week but that his warrant will still expire next month and he will then bus it back to Scooterville a free man. Free for the first time since he was a teenager. He promises that my phone number and email are safe in his contingency bag stored at his sister's house and that he will call me as soon as he's in town. He won't promise me that he will continue to get his monthly injection but I take what I can get.

Our time then expires. It takes almost forever to get back out through all the gates and click-doors where the air is fresh and crisp and life goes on.

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Lonely Lumberjack and I spend moments together on brief regular occasions. I am fond of him.

Life in the bush came with harsh struggles and dangers, I have learned , as did life behind bars. One had to be tough. One had to bear somehow, the idiotic things that so many men will do when they are gender-segregated for so long.

A man among them who knows integrity; who knows work-ethic and discipline; who knows the great powers to be harnessed from solitude and quiet and the pristine reality of natural spaces, all of which he is denied; how does he tolerate the unescapable clamor of idiocy?

Who would blame him for wanting to lash out?

Who would blame one, who has been judged harshly against the superstitions of the day, for judging others in turn for the unaccounted harm they do?

It takes some insight to detect the illegitimicies of human habit; to see the great harms in normalcy.

I suggest that this wisdom is rarer: To see that all of life is constructed for the purpose of doing harm and all these offences which surround us are natural and inevitable and born of programming necessary to our very existence, and that our own capacities, however occasional, for decency and balance are something to be proud of and celebrated and pursued and multiplied, but not to be taken for granted; not to be expected in others; not to be a cause for rage when others do not measure up to our own, perhaps excellent, but precocious, standards.

This, I would have the woodsman perceive, if I had my way.

I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways.
- Michael Jackson

I never yet heard man or woman much abused [who] I was not inclined to think the better of... and to transfer the suspicion or dislike to the one who found pleasure in pointing out the defects of another.
- Jane Porter

It is not because angels are holier than men or devils that makes them angels but because they do not expect holiness from one another but from God only.
- William Blake (1757-1827)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Ode to a friend

The Lonely Lumberjack
Bore no ineptitude.

He felled trees
And subordinates
In equal measure.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

White noise

Every other weekend my partner at Corrections Heaven is a retired police officer - a former sergeant actually. We'll call him... Goodolwhiteboy, shall we?

I took the liberty of recording Goodolwhiteboy's comments for the first twenty minutes of our shift last night. Here they are, without context:

"Are we still doing those fuckin' extra head counts?"

"Fuckin' smokers; pain in the ass."

[yawns loudly] "Fuck."

"NO! You're too fuckin' old!"

"Jesus Christ; Fuckin' pain in the ass..."

"All I do... Pain in the ass."

"There's enough smokes in here for a fuckin' army!"

"Don't be fuckin' saucy! I'm not in the mood for this shit!"

That was the first twenty minutes of a twelve-hour shift. Multiply this by 36 and you get an idea of the soundtrack to which I attempt to write. Now you know why my characters swear so much.