Journal Entries (February 26th–March 11th, 2013).

Tuesday, February 26th–I woke at 5:28am, actually feeling rested.

But what did I do?

Wednesday, February 27th–I woke early again, did the usual, sent an e-mail to my Case Worker explaining [a personal problem], drank a couple cups of coffee to try control my mood, and headed out. I went to Randall’s and got a refund for the light bulbs, then took two buses to the DARS office.

My Case Worker kept me waiting twenty minutes–apparently she was on the phone–and had nothing new to tell me that the Career Counselor didn’t say a few weeks ago, namely, that I am currently unemployable in my current condition. She typed up a “To Whom It May Concern” letter…, explaining the seriousness of my situation, and telling me that if [anyone] has any further questions, [they] can contact her.

My Case Worker will soon shut down my DARS file, since DARS is dedicated to finding disabled people work, and I can’t currently work. We discussed the next steps I should take. This included applying for Social Security Disability Insurance and Section 8 (government help on rent–the only catch being that J___ told me later that The Powers That Be insist on home inspections, which I would find invasive and traumatic).

She said to apply for SSDI online, that I’d probably be turned down the first time, and only then should I bring in a lawyer to appeal, though she gave me a number to call to find an SSDI lawyer. She explained some other stuff, but I didn’t understand her clearly.

We agreed that the chief benefit of all this would be that being on SSDI would give me access to Medicare and Medicaid, which would provide me with a higher level of medical care than what I’m now receiving, with the goal being the restoration of good mental health and a return to the working world.

I was in a fairly good mood on the way home, but got tired once I returned. I had planned to go to bed shortly after sundown, but lingered until 10:40pm–just long enough to read something else online that left me depressed and heart-broken.

Thursday, February 28th–I got up early, walked and fed Belle and myself, and took an express bus to campus. I went to the CVS drug store on the Drag to try to find a light bulb for my desk lamp, but I quickly lost my temper, especially because it seemed that everywhere in the store I went, this middle-aged guy who was dragging a bad leg behind him kept getting in my fucking way.

I finally bought something else, crossed the street in a rage, and around 10am caught a shuttle bus over to the Art Buildings. I looked at some Central America Indian artwork reproductions in a hallway, then examined the latest student works at the Visual Arts Center. I was very impressed with some of the prints, and wished I could buy a few of them.

I took another shuttle over to Jester Center and ate an over-priced Asian lunch in the cafeteria, before heading over to the Blanton. I went to the Print Department first, dressed in my shabby clothes, and asked the Director of that Department if there was a print transcript of the lecture Leo Steinberg gave when UT took possession of his print collection. She thought that was a very good question indeed, and asked for my e-mail address so she could tell me if she ever finds the answer.

Next I toured the current special exhibition, which features artwork from the collections of various UT Alumni. Amazingly enough, I was allowed to photograph most of it, but I’d only gotten a small number of pictures taken before my batteries, as well as the back-up batteries, gave out. I wandered through the rest of the show and the permanent collection in a frustrated daze. I guess I’ll have to go back next Thursday.

By 2pm I was exhausted, decided to skip hitting any libraries, and I got some fried rice and a Dr. Pepper from a vendor by the Littlefield Fountain, consumed all that while sitting on a bench, then took a bus back.

I forget how I spent the rest of the day and evening.

MARCH

Friday, March 1st–I spent much of the morning and early afternoon rewriting and editing three pieces for J___.

Some of the information on those information sheets my DARS Case Worker gave me is either incorrect or leads to dead ends. I noticed in passing that the address for Capital Area Mental Health Center, for instance, is for its old location, which it’s not occupied since 2009 or 2010.

Later, I watched “Monsieur N.”

Saturday, March 2nd–I got up around 1pm, walked and fed Belle, and got a message from J____. He and N___ came and got me later on. We lunched at Threadgill’s, he paid me for my editing work, and we went to the main Half-Price Books in North Lamar. I didn’t find anything I was looking for, but did find some okay books nonetheless.

I was a little stressed out–at my lack of money, at the noisy music playing, at the crowds of people in the store, and at my trouble finding the books I sought. I saw a morbidly obese older man sprawled over a shopping cart, making his slow way to the check-out line. He stopped to take a call, and I cut in front of him–a move he mentioned to his caller–but I didn’t fucking care. I’d gladly have bashed his fucking skull in had I been given the slightest provocation.

There were two cashiers on duty, and they both looked like homeless junkies. I got a little testy with mine when he initially failed to give me a bag for my books. What he did give me was a paper bag that was much too small for my needs. (Austin enacted a plastic bag ban yesterday.)

J___ and N____ were both beginning to feel unwell. We went by his in-laws’s apartment, then Lowe’s Hardware, where I finally got light bulbs for my desk lamp and batteries for my camera, then up to my part of town, where we stopped for coffee and doughnuts at Krispy Kreme. There was a big, rather disturbing-looking wreck on Jollyville Road near my house, so we took a detour back.

I got some sad news, but it was about a matter that is completely out of my hands to effect one way or the other.

When I got home, Belle was worked up, as usual. The strange thing was that I could find no sign of the plate of food I’d put down for her a few hours earlier. She’d not nudged it under the fridge or into the living room. I took her out for a walk, and after we got back I looked more thoroughly, and found she’d pushed the plate under the stove, and now she was hungry for the food that was on it.

I spent the rest of the night puttering online.

Sunday, March 3rd–I dreamt that I had moved to New York City, despite being broke, unemployed, and pronounced officially unemployable. I spent much of my spare time hanging out at a popular, though inexpensive restaurant owned and operated by [a famous] blogger. I found that if I dressed nicely and didn’t adopt the cringing, debased postures of a bum, I could spend hours at a table unmolested, eating, drinking, and people-watching. I could buy an inexpensive drink and small sandwich, then assemble a huge meal from the side dishes (including corn-on-the-cob and whole pickles) that were available for free on the condiment/buffet table.

One morning I came in early, somewhat irritating [the owner and his partner] in the process. A little later, after some celebs had filtered in, I was at the buffet, and had a conversation with a young woman who worked either in publicity or for a foundation. I think she took me to be a wealthy artist, and I did nothing to disabuse her of this notion.

Still later [some pop stars], their girlfriends, and entourage came in and took their time trying to decide what to order. They were followed, at a respectful distance, by a clutch of devoted fans who seemed to devote a great deal of effort to holding their hands up to their chests and gaping.

On the heels of these people in bounded a college buddy of mine, apparently in New York for business. He spotted me, was clearly surprised to see me somewhere other than in Texas, and made a beeline for my table, clearly ready to bore me with the details of his recent life. Eventually, I got a word in edgewise, and related to him, sotto voce, the sad details of my economic and psychological collapse.

……………..

I got up around 11:30am–much too early for my taste. Plus I was tired. I walked and fed Belle and myself, puttered around, soon got depressed and tired, went back to bed, read a bit, then slept for about five or six hours, waking after 7pm.

But the second part of the day wasn’t any better. I was soon in mental agony, angry, heart-broken, depressed, sad, jealous, miserable. Things improved a bit when I showered and had some coffee.

………………….

The creation of Art and the protection of Nature are really about the only two decent arguments I can think of for the preservation of the human race. It really has no other worthwhile functions.

……………………

I watched an hour and two minutes of “Potiche” before the goddamn DVD froze up and refused to proceed any further. That was pretty fucking frustrating, but that’s the chance you take when getting DVDs from the fucking public library.

Monday, March 4th–I woke in mid-afternoon, walked and fed Belle, and got my paperwork together for my Food Stamps application.

I called the Bob Richardson Law Firm about my plans to pursue an SSDI claim. After a consultation, they turned me down, and wouldn’t say why. I suspect it’s because I couldn’t tell them exactly which of my conditions is supposedly making me disabled, and because I mentioned having conditions for which I’d not yet received formal diagnoses.

They told me to contact another referral service. I did so, but it only had two affiliated disability lawyers, one being the lawyer from Bob Richardson. So I called the other law firm, and got turned down there as well. They said I should just apply online, and call them if I got turned down. They also said I should call the local Social Security office and have them walk me through the process, since I said I apparently needed a formal medical diagnosis, but am not sure where and how to get one with no income.

And on top of this I gathered that I was getting on the nerves of one of my online friends.

Needless to say, all this put me into a huge panic attack.

I gathered my things and went over to the UPS Store. For some reason, the owner had given his staff the afternoon off, and so had to face the 5pm rush alone. Just watching him hustle and bustle around stressed me out. It took the better part of fifteen minutes for him to get to me. I made my copies, finished parts of the forms I’d overlooked, paid for everything, mailed off the application as well as a bill, then went on my way.

Next up was Petsmart, where I bought two bags of dog food and a bag of chews. As usual, the noise stressed me out, and I was even more annoyed by the fact that due to the City ban on plastic bags I had a hell of a time organizing my purchases. I then went to the dollar store and had similar problems, made worse by children and teenaged girls getting underfoot and in my way. I was a mess by the time I got home.

I talked briefly on IM with J____. He wasn’t very helpful and kept trying to change the subject, then abruptly announced he had to go walk the dog he was caring for. And so he disappeared for quite a few hours, before re-emerging on IM again briefly, not being of much help, and announcing suddenly that he was going to bed.

Tuesday, March 5th–I woke around mid-day, I think, and soon felt awful. I called around to various agencies and departments, trying to find out where I could find a free or low-cost doctor to diagnose me as disabled, but everyone kept passing the buck. I was eventually directed to my primary care physician, and left her a message.

I spend more and more of my time each day just trying to get myself to a level where I’m feeling vaguely decent, to where I don’t feel like crying or blowing my brains out. I seldom succeed, and when I do, the only thing that brings about this success seems to be liberal doses of strong and expensive coffee.

Not to sound like I’m wallowing in self-pity, but I’ve definitely taken a turn for the worse these last few months. I can barely stand being conscious, and my dreams are as often as not nightmares. Every minute seems to bring new and expanded heartbreaks.

And the outer world, the world outside the walls of my apartment, is just getting worse by the day. The stupidity and evil of the people in charge, the people running the governments and society, is just flabbergasting. My friends have turned into cruel and ignorant strangers.

The only reason I’ve lasted this long is the lack of a painless, foolproof method to do the deed. About all that I have to keep me here now are my dog and my books.

Sorry to carry on, but I’m just overwhelmed.

Eventually, after hours of misery, I went back to bed in the evening, read in the Temple Houston book, then slept for four or five hours or so, waking at 12:48am.

Wednesday, March 6th–As I said, I woke at 12:48am. I read more in the book, walked Belle a few times, ate, puttered around, but never got to feeling good.

I was looking over the pictures I took last Thursday and it seems that my photography skills are actually getting worse instead of better.

Thursday, March 7th–I woke initially in late morning, too late to go to the Blanton, so I went back to sleep, not getting up until about 1:30pm.

I didn’t hear a peep from my doctor or Case Worker. I did talk to J____, who said he was coming to town, but said the chances that he’d be in my part of town were very slim indeed. Since it was Food Stamp day and I needed some food, I decided to go to HEB, but I dreaded it, and it took me about four hours to finally bring myself to leave the house, and even then I was filled with dread and panic.

I had an unpleasant, over-priced meal at McDonald’s, then stumbled over to HEB. I didn’t buy the usual over-abundance of food, but I found the City’s newly-instituted plastic bag ban really made my shopping experience more inconvenient than usual. The whole excursion was very stressful, and the store was filled with disgusting-looking people. I was very upset by the time I got home.

Belle was naturally not happy with me. I was putting up groceries when J____ called. It turns out he’d been in my part of town for hours and had been calling and looking for me, wanting to take me to dinner. This was lousy timing. I had already undressed and was trying to decompress.

I dressed again, took away Belle’s chew so she wouldn’t choke on it in my absence, and went out with J___ and N____ to eat at Pei-Wei. I got a much-needed beer, only to find the fucking thing was lukewarm. I was pretty tired and depressed, so I’m sure I didn’t make good dinner company.

J____ B_____ wrote me saying that an Austin friend with an eleven-year-old Basset is moving to a fourth-floor walk-up apartment in New York, and thought we should meet. I said stairs are bad on the back of a Basset at any age, and so now I’m going to help them find the Basset a new home.

I think I watched the third episode of the Australian comedy series “Please Like Me” online, having watched the first two a few days back.

Friday, March 8th–Around midnight the Tumbler began to get boring, so I attached my external hard drive and did my first-ever back-up of the files on this computer. Then I got on the floor and began to read in the Temple Houston book. By 7am I was tired and my eyes were clouding up, and the back-up wasn’t even halfway done.

Saturday, March 9th–I woke in mid-afternoon. It turns out that the back-up didn’t finish until 10:22 this morning.

I read more in the Houston book.

Sunday, March 10th–I woke thinking it was about 7pm, but because of the time change it was actually 8pm.

I was in a okay mood for much of the evening.

In the wee hours I finally finished Glenn Shirley’s “Temple Houston: Lawyer With A Gun–A Biography of Sam Houston’s Son.” Temple Houston was the youngest child of Sam Houston, and was the first child born in the Texas Governor’s Mansion. He became a distinguished criminal lawyer, a famous orator, speaking at the dedication of the Texas State Capitol in 1888, a flamboyant dresser, and a fast-draw expert. His life inspired at least two films and one TV series.

I have mixed feelings about the book. Part of it was very entertaining, while much of it was deadly dull. Author Shirley didn’t seem to understand the concept of editing, or perhaps, willfully embraced padding. (The book also had plenty of rather glaring typos and errors: A man said to be sixteen years of age in 1888 had reached the age of forty by 1902.)

Shirley assumes his readers are well-versed in legal terminology and procedures, especially those pertaining to land and title transactions. He assumes they are interested and well-informed on nineteenth-century grazing and range law disputes, the Free Silver Movement, Texas state government in the nineteenth century, Oklahoma territorial government in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and American political conventions and the rules and regulations pertaining to same in the late nineteenth centuries. Furthermore, he feels it necessary to provide capsule biographies of minor characters in a way that fails to advance the story.

(I read his “Shotgun for Hire” The Story of ‘Deacon’ Jim Miller, Killer of Pat Garrett” a few years ago, and kept getting distracted by all of his introductions of unimportant characters, and byzantine descriptions of the set-up of events which had little to no pay-off.)

Take this passage as an example of Shirley at his dullest:

“Houston was in Guthrie again in January, ‘greeting his many friends’ but primarily ‘on business before the board of equalization,’ and ‘nothing political except that attaches’ to a bill before the Seventh Legislature. The bill provided that the commissioners of any county, upon petition signed by ‘at least twenty-five homesteaders or freeholders, legal voters and residents,’ could divide such county into stock districts of ‘not less that 72 square miles nor more than 144,’ with due consideration to streams, timber, and prairies, ‘whether it be better adapted to agriculture or stock raising use.’ After a district was established, one-fourth of its voters and residents could petition a special election to decide ‘if and when domestic animals would be permitted to run at large, methods of distraint, and other such police regulations.’ Violators were subject to a fine or imprisonment in the county jail and in addition were liable in a civil action for recovery of damages and costs by the person whose lands were trespassed.”

Now I ask–why the hell should I care about any of this? I can barely make sense of this dry-as-dust paragraph. Why does Shirley feel it belongs in the biography of such a colorful personage?

I forget when I retired.

Monday, March 11th–When I got up I had a number of annoying [troubling] e-mails…about SSDI, DARS, and similar matters….

My Case Worker finally wrote back, saying she didn’t know why I was telling people I didn’t have a diagnosis, when it was my diagnosis that got me admitted to DARS in the first place. (Well, during our last meeting, she made it sound like I didn’t have a strong medical case to offer to Social Security.)….

It was film noir night at the B__________ Cinema. I watched “The Big Heat” and “Criss Cross.”

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