Thursday, August 30, 2007

FLASHBACK: March 1987

Linda and her boss Veronica were in a dilemma. One of the clients who was enrolled in the Day Program and Recreation Program for the Center was in need of immediate placement into a group home. Yet no space was available in any of the 12 or so group homes in the Residential Program until later that year.

Because this client, Jim, was a frequent participant in the Recreation Program which I managed, Linda thought that Jim might benefit from staying with me in my apartment for a few months until placement was ready.

The Pros would be State funding paid to me as a kind of foster care provider, as well as full funding for all of Jim's daily needs (ADL supplies, clothes, food)...and, Jim's SSI money for non-essentials like recreation etc.

The Con would be that I lived in a one-bedroom apartment and he would have to use the living room as his bedroom. Also, it meant pretty much round the clock supervision which was not too bad 'cause, even then, I hardly ever went out to places Jim wouldn't be okay to come along (like a club), and Jim was very "high functioning" so I wouldn't be burdened by too much "residential aide" type work. Just the "adult" things he never learned like cooking and cleaning. He dressed himself, washed himself (kinda...because he thought he was now free of his mother's nagging, he started to get lax in his hygiene tasks, so after a week or so I had to start monitoring him to be sure he was properly brushing his teeth, shaving, etc., 'cause otherwise he got lazy)

I agreed to have him live with me and moved him in around late-February.

(Side note: After moving his stuff in with the Center's van, we went back to his mother's house in Pawtucket to get a portable dishwasher his mom let me have since she didn't need it anymore. While driving along on that day, a news bulletin was broadcast on the van radio. The announcer stated that Andy Warhol had just died. I pulled the van over and cried. Jim asked what was the matter and I just told him I just heard some sad news. He probably wouldn't under stand why I'd morn someone I never met.)

Jim got settled in and though at first I was weary of letting him do anything unsupervised, I knew he couldn't just stay in and watch TV all the time. He had his bike and the weather in March was finally getting to where he could ride it without freezing, so I let him go out and ride his bike close by the complex. I defined the boundaries he should stay within and he agreed he wouldn't go beyond them.

It's funny now thinking back then about the fact that this man in his early-thirties, almost 10 years older than me, needed to be treated like a pre-teen, but that was not unusual to us in human services for the developmentally disabled. Clients, regardless of age or size, and even functionality for the most part knew their role...and us staff knew ours.

Jim kept his promise and biked only around the complex that was Kent Farm Village, but, because of his inability to discern social taboos about certain behaviors, trouble one afternoon came a knockin', literally.

Jim had been outside biking when suddenly he came into the apartment with his bike, parked the bike in it's corner and sat down looking flustered and out of breath.

I asked him what was the matter and, very atypically, since he was usually so happy-go-lucky, he said he didn't want to talk about it.

Somewhat freaked, I knew something had happened so I looked out the window from my 6th floor living room and there parked by the front door to the building was a police cruiser.

Within seconds there was a forceful knock at the door.

The East Providence patrolman was cool and businesslike asking what the relationship of Jim was and what his intentions were.

It turns out, Jim got bored of playing by himself so he want some neighborhood kids to hang out with. According to the cop, Jim wanted some little kids to go into the woods with him. The kids, of course, freaked and ran to tell their parents, and the parents called the cops. When the cop showed up at the parents house, Jim had by then gone back to riding his bike. When the cop spotted him he asked him to come over to his cruiser. Apparently Jim freaked and made his way back to the apartment, basically evading the cop. The cop followed and here we were. Ya, I know!

Well, luckily, I knew Jim well enough to know that like quite a few higher-functioning folks (Neil a few years later at Elm Street comes to mind), he kept sexuality really on a very pre-teen, almost asexual level. He was especially under-developed in terms of libido as he seemingly never masturbated, never gawked or spoke sexually suggestive towards women (or men), and thought that dancing with a girl at the Center-held dances for clients was the height of sexual contact, especially if he got the equivalent in his world of "going all the way"; a quick tongue-less kiss on the lips.

So Jim truely and innocently wanted friends to hang out with, probably to ride bikes or play ball...that's it.

But, since Jim is not Downs' or otherwise physically obvious as to his mental level, we know what these parents and this cop thought was going on.

I explained the situation to the cop and he seemed satisfied that that was the case especially after I gave him contact numbers for Linda at the Center, but he said he'd be checking this out, and admonished me to be more watchful of him.

After the cop left, I saw Jim was scared so I reassured him no one was upset and nothing was going to happen, but I stressed that he could not approach any strangers at all. I knew he knew he shouldn't, so it make plausible the idea that he might have actually asked the kids to go into the nearby woods with him so that he would not be seen by their parents. He wanted to play with kids their age because in his mind, he felt like he was their age, yet he knew adults, and even the kids saw this as inappropriate.

Jim recovered quickly from this and, thankfully, rarely went bike riding again. But the thing that really irked me was the fact that when I got in the office the next day I called the police station and asked if there was any follow up needed due to the incident. The cop who took my call thought I was some other staff member inquiring about this and stated that in the report the cop who came to my door said the matter seemed resolved but that as a caution the Center should be notified that he thought the guy they placed Jim with was "a homosexual"!

Believe it or not, my face flushed and the first emotion I felt was shame. Can you believe it? It felt like when I was in junior high and bully's called me a "fag" and I felt shame because I thought they could actually tell.

But then I felt indignation. Who was this guy, first of all, to say in an official report that I might be "a homosexual"?

Did he think I acted swish?

Was it because my apartment was neat and well-decorated?
(It was done up in a bit of "cosmo-queer" decor, admittedly, with black-lacquer accented furniture, black crushed-velvet throw pillows and a flamboyant spray of pink and burgundy gladiolas in a lead-crystal vase on the beveled-mirror focal table...with the track lights cascading their soft glow upon the bank of mini blinds behind a 6' ficus tree with white mini Christmas lights strewn among it's flowing branches...it was FABULOUS!...well, except for Jim's "Leave It To Beaver" style bunk bed in the corner with Power Rangers sheets...ugh.)

Secondly, for him to pick that up he must have Gaydar. And usually, you have Gaydar if you are gay...

Well why didn't he ask me out....he was kinda cute:)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Weekend Update

Jane, you ignorant slut!

Ok, it's not quite the weekend being only Tuesday but fuck that and let's get to it...

Well, Ric will be going with me to New Orleans in a few weeks. The good part is that I will revel in being the tour guide for him since he's never been there. The bad part is he'll be drunk both nights and will be a handful.

But, then again, if he keeps getting into confrontations with automobiles, maybe he won't be tagging along...

This past Saturday evening Ric knocked on my door. He seemed fine but said that he needed me to help him out by staying with him for a few days. Why? Because he had just spent the day in the emergency room being treated for his injuries from an accident earlier that day. He was biking across a busy road in Altamonte and was hit by a car as it was speeding to beat a red light.

Luckily, he suffered only a gash on his back near his left shoulder needing 9 stitches and a scrape on his shin.

I spent the weekend with him and helped him with his bandages. But despite his being on Vicodin, we still went to Jax and on Sunday to Longhorn. After all, life goes on.

I knew it was just a matter of time. Thankfully, it was not worse. His bike shop guy has threatened that he will only return the repaired bike if Ric buys a helmet. I agree, he should have had a helmet on his head long ago.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I Have No Really Good Excuse...

For neglecting this blog, that is.

But, getting quickly over that, let's move on to a huge update!

1. The last entry was about the ill-fated "Master Cleanse" attempt...um, any surprise that didn't work? I didn't even last a day, never mind the recommended 10 days! (I still have some of the lemons though......but they still "look" fresh...what?!)

2. But to better my health, I finally decided to use my insurance and went to see a doctor...mainly about my achy knees and my frozen shoulder. Diagnoses?
A.) Shoulder: Frozen Shoulder...physical therapy exercises may improve it's functionality..yeah!
B.) Knees...especially the left one: X-Rays indicate I need to follow up with MRI scan...hmmm. Could be more serious than just a sprain or even simple arthritis.
C.) But the big surprise (or maybe not...), I was put on high blood pressure meds immediately! Yup, my BP, historically described in virtually all previous examinations as "somewhat higher than normal" is now "...definitely NOT borderline": first reading = 150/95, second reading = 170/110. Yikes!
D.) The doctor also ordered a series of blood tests and urine testing to check on a slew of other potential problems. Can't wait 'till Sept. 5th when I find out what they revealed. Gulp.
E.) Oh, BTW, the doctor didn't say anything directly about my weight at this juncture...but I think he will during the more thorough "physical" appointment set for September 5th. The nurse weighed me in...(...ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please...)...325! (I was thinking maybe 305-310...but 325!...Damn!)

3. Work is going very well. Drew is gone...he transferred to sales, so his brand of over-the-top buffoonery is finally a memory! I got promoted to Senior CSR with a $2000 pay raise...Holla! I'm the new SME (Subject Matter Expert) for Backup Exec. This along with the task of monitoring the 2 customer service email alias still in existence gives me the excuse to take minimal calls and, as long as I am addressing the email concerns, plenty of "project" time to web browse, complete personal business, etc. In general, get one step closer to my goal: a George Castanza Dream Job!

4. But the big news of this update...
Late in June, Ric came home one night to the sight of me passed out on my bed and a pot roast burning in the oven.

This was the last straw...

He demanded that I be out of his house by end of July the latest.

There was a week of not talking to each other, but eventually I realized that it was time to move on anyway...

Though I got rejected at least 2 apartment complexes, I found a small...no, I mean TINY...one room "house" for rent in Lake Mary...right on, Lake Mary (the lake the town is named for).

So I moved in early July, and, here I am.

It is a small (less than 400 square feet) studio with a twin-size Murphy bed. No oven, hotplate-style burners for cooking, a tiny microwave, and no dishwasher.

It so reminds me of the set up I last had with Albert in New Orleans.

I actually love it!

Oh, Ric and I are still best buds. I see him virtually every weekend, and if we go to Jax, which is usually every weekend, I sleep over there.

Best of all, living on my own costs no more that when I was living with Ric!

5. I may sign up for some community education course(s) at SCC (Seminole Community College). They just opened a building right near work which I could hit right after work a night or 2 a week. Eh, I need a change of pace.

6. Planned and booked...finally...a triumphant-return-style vacation to New Orleans in mid-September! Only 3 days, but you know I'll make the best of it! But only $300, airfare and hotel (New Orleans Hilton Riverfront)!

Finally, I miss updating you all on this blog. So look forward to more posts..including some delicious Flashbacks...I promise.