Bored: 38 days
Number of milestone chips in my wallet: 1
The newest housemate is a 52 year old man whose wife died about four years ago. In short order he'd lost his job, pared his belongings down to a backpack and some clothes, and moved into a tent on a strip of grass between two auto dealerships. They let him stay there in exchange for guarding their pile of scrap metal. He lived there for three years.
He doesn't remember getting so wasted that he told the people he was drinking with that he was finished living before throwing himself in front of a bus. He vividly remembers the next few weeks in the hospital, followed by a few more weeks in the psych ward, followed by a couple of months in intensive inpatient rehab. Now he's here, and he can't stop smiling. His enthusiasm for the rest of his life is something I've never seen before. He's found the kind of peace and serenity that you can only get by taking advantage of a second chance you thought you'd never live to see. It's a real lesson in humility: How dare I feel bad about anything?
Tonight he pointed at the TV and said "Hey, you look just like that guy!". Zach Galifinakis was hosting Saturday Night Live. I said "Thanks asshole, my former co-workers said the same thing to me around Halloween, and that was thirty pounds ago". Then I shoveled another spoonful of Ben & Jerry's S'mores ice cream into my word hole. And I didn't feel bad about it because I never had to live in a tent, you know?
There was a kerfluffle in the house last week. A, a former gang-banging dope-slinger from Colombia who is all muscle and scars, came into the bedroom we share to impart some well-meaning, but misguided advice. "Hey, I don't want to embarrass you or anything, but you might want to be careful about what you look at on the computer". Because there are plenty of times in my life where a legitimate response would have been mortification, I was mortified. But then I was perplexed, since the most potentially offensive thing I'd seen all day were the saucy banner ads at thestranger.com. "What are you talking about?", I asked. "This doesn't change anything between us or anything," he began, "but I guess R (20 year old new guy, just moved into the house as part of his parole) saw that there were some gay websites on there, and I mean, *I* don't care, but I think he told S about it and was making jokes about it. I just don't want the word to get around, I don't want you to get made fun of or anything".
Oh, THAT stuff I was looking at on the computer. The online gay AA meeting I'd just started participating in. "Oh, the gay AA site? I don't give a shit about people 'making fun' of me for that. I've been out for 18 years. Thanks for looking out for me, though". Turns out he thought my mentions of ex boyfriends were some kind of me-centric colloquialism along the lines of "gal pal". I thought it was weird when he told me he thought Justin Bieber looked like a "fucking faggot" when he spotted him on the cover of my Vanity Fair. Didn't he know I was gay? Not only had I mentioned my boyfriends in group to everyone, but also, I was reading the issue of Vanity Fair with Justin Bieber on the cover. Anyway, our conversation ended with "Sorry about that thing I said about Justin Bieber. I didn't know". I said "That's okay, because I'm still going to make fun of you for being an ethnic stereotype when you go to sleep in nothing but boxers and six gold chains".
That was that until days later when S, who it turns out is secretly gay, ratted on R for saying something homophobic about my lurid browser history. Tons of muckety-mucks got involved, everyone was taken aside and spoken to about what they knew, an emergency house meeting was called, and R was given the boot. As happy as I am that they take this shit seriously, I thought that seemed pretty extreme for a kid who made a stupid comment (granted, I don't know what it was, and don't care) and who may have to go to prison for a few years for violating his parole by getting booted from his recovery program. Probably just saying "Hey, shitface, zero tolerance on the homophobic comments, okay? Read your fucking client handbook" would have done the trick. This went down on the first day that the newest guy, the one who lived in the tent, moved in, and we had to assure him that things were not normally so dramatic. "Hey, if you want someone to go to your meetings for homosexuals with you, I'll go", he offered. I love that guy.
Tonight we went to a "speaker meeting", a two hour AA meeting that features normal meeting business followed by a one hour presentation by a fellow member. These are big, special events with lots of attendees. As soon as we entered, a plucky girl approached and said "Hey! Have a raffle ticket!". "What do we win if we get called?", asked RF, the senior housemate who had chaperoned a group of four of us to the meeting. "Prizes?", she said, looking suddenly irritated.
Out of 240 people in attendance, my ticket number was called first. "What do I get?", I asked as I walked to the front of the room, half kidding. "Looks like this young man hasn't had his number called yet!", said the older gentleman behind the podium to the room. Then to me, "Step right up here, fella! We'd love to hear you speak for two minutes. It's not optional." Some prize. But, I think I actually did okay. I say "I think" because I don't remember a thing I said, but I didn't wet myself and I heard people laughing when I said something I hoped would make people laugh. A cool guy came up to me after the meeting and gave me his number and said I should join his group. This is pretty standard AA stuff, but I probably need to workshop my response or something, because it was along the lines of "Oh yay! You like me and I can join your club!". But it sounds like I'll be getting a sponsor out of the deal, which is timely. I'm stuck at step three.
An explanation of sorts for my lazy posting: 1) My counselor recommended I take it easy with "stressors", things like responding to emails and posting here and worrying about Japan and everything else happening in the outside world. And 2) Things are getting really boring. The last ten days have been a time of really important growth for me, and something I mean to be recording for my own benefit, which is the whole reason I started posting things here to begin with - to have a record of my growth for myself. Everything I've written along those lines is something that I wouldn't want to read if it were about someone else and, mindful that approximately two of you are reading what I am writing, I've been reluctant to post my X-Treme navel-gazing. So I resolve to get over that, and apologize in advance for the boring results.