Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reminiscing on Rehab #3

"The Carolina Incident" was the big moment in rehab where I realized just how idiotic the people there truly were.

When you hear the name "Carolina" what do you think of?

If your first thought is a 250 lbs dude that looks like Jay-Z on steroids, then clearly we aren't on the same page. But that's who Carolina was. His real name was Joseph, but he preferred Carolina. If a teacher called him by his real name he wouldn't answer. You know when a child decides they want to change their name, so when you call on them they wont acknowledge your existence unless you call them "Captain Poopypants" or whatever? That was Carolina. A grown man at around 6'5 who would stare at the ceiling or the walls and refrain from giggling while the teacher called "Joseph.... Joseph..." until finally she would cave in and call "Carolina?" His head snapped at attention, "Oh yes mam? Were you speaking to me?"

This always resulted in fits of laughter, knee slaps, and high fives from his fellow comrades. Boy they got the teacher good, let me tell you. There was more giggling coming out of that group of men than a room full of prepubescent Justin Beiber fans. This is the age regression I mentioned before. I was right back in high school and it drove me up the fucking wall. In fact, comparing them to high school students might even be giving them too much credit.


Janessa was one of the few female Yellow Tags in the program. She was appointed "Class President" or whatever for our opening class every morning where she would get up, make the morning announcements and all that jazz. Janessa was referred to as "Janessa the Hutt" by her fellow Yellow Tags due to her size. Every morning, EVERY MORNING, for the 27 days I was in attendance, this poor girl would stand up and walk to the podium to make her announcements and every time she would walk she would be treated to loud "Moooooo's" from the Yellow Tags as they stomped loudly on the floor to make the room shake. It was clear that it was happening before I got to rehab and Im sure it continued on well after I left.

So maybe best to compare them to 8 year olds...

While the Yellow Tags were cracking jokes that Kindergarteners would find to be absolute gold, I was sitting back and laughing at the sheer absurdity of everything they do. Carolina, the self imposed "Leader" of the pack, would casually "stroll" into class late EVERYDAY with that "one foot must be cased in cement" kind of strut, grab a chair, drag it all the way to the back wall away from the rest of the class. And every single time the teacher would have to tell him "Put the chair back where it belongs and sit with the rest of the class" and every time he would act like a child who's just been told he has to clean his room so all his actions  become slooooow, heavy, and drawn out. Watching this once a day would be annoying enough but we had 7-8 classes a day so you do the math.

If I didn't mention already Carolina was in his late 30's to early 40's but I'm sure you already put that together.

My other favorite thing about Carolina was his constant bitching outside of class.

"Man this food tastes like my asshole" "Man, it's so boring here" "Man, it's too fucking hot outside"

Nobody, myself included, ever had the balls to just tell him the reality of it all. That he should be rotting in a prison cell for 9 years instead of being outside playing basket ball every day in the beautiful weather like he was. But whatever...

There was only one time he and I actually interacted one on one and it's when I denied him a cigarette. Much like prison, cigarettes are like gold in rehab, and since the Yellow Tags think they run the joint they don't feel the need to buy cigarettes like the rest of us do. They can just bum them off of all of us because everyone is scared to say no. Everyone, that is, except me and my friend Big Dan, a 60 something Vietnam Vet.

You see, with every passing day my mind became more and more clear and I felt like a million bucks. After a few "test runs" with some of less threatening Yellow tags (they often looked like skinnier versions of Eminem), I found I could "train" them much like I trained my dog. Through repetition. I only kept a few cigarettes in my pack at a time, the rest were stashed in my room. So whenever someone would ask to bum one I'd open the pack to reveal the few. As the days went by I would be asked less and less til it reached the point where not a single person ever asked me for a cigarette my last week and a half there. It was bliss.

So anyway, back to Carolina. One day I hear, "Hey yo Steve. Lemmie get a cigarette."

I know he's talking to me but I don't turn around.

"Steve what are you deaf? Im talkin to you"

I continue talking to my friend.

He grabs my shoulder and spins me around, "STEVE let me get a cigarette."

It's at this point I become genuinely scared since he's a full head taller than me but I still don't say anything. I just look down at my name tag. He reads my name tag and says, "I said what I said STEVE. Now give me a cigarette."

Now I have no idea what was going through my head. Maybe it was a combination of feeling so amazing for the first time in over a decade mixed with the inner anger of being in my late 20's and I'm actually being bullied like a high schooler but whatever was going through my mind I CLEARLY wasn't thinking.

All I said was "I don't think so... Joseph."

Mere seconds after his name left my lips I was slammed up against the wall, my head hitting the brick.

"What the FUCK did you call me?"

"Nothing," was all I could whisper as he pressed harder against my chest, immediately regretting everything I did leading to this point.

"The fuck nothing, WHAT did you call me??"

At this moment I am holding in tears with every fiber of my being, both emotionally and from the pain. I don't know what would have happened next but lucky for me "The Missing Link" (our nickname for the counselor Joe) came to my rescue and broke us up. What felt like an eternity being pinned against the wall was barely even a few seconds. Needless to say my whole body was trembling for a solid 20 minutes or so afterwards. I asked The Missing Link if I could go to my room and calm down which he was cool enough to allow and had me excused from class. In the privacy of my bunk I clutched my chest and tried my hardest not to cry. It was one of my weakest moments in rehab and the first time I truly missed home.

I debated on whether or not to even mention that part of my experience because it doesn't exactly make me look particularly good, but I feel if I want people to get a real taste of what my experience was like I gotta tell it like it is. Just typing it out made me relive the whole experience all over again and I still have NO IDEA why I would even talk back to someone like that. It was so stupid and no matter what sort of issues I had with Carolina I should have just kept my mouth shut. But I can't go back and change what I said.

All I can do is thank Carolina for his OWN moment of weakness because that brief encounter he and I had took place the day before "The Carolina Incident."

(I know I know, "That wasn't the Incident??" Sorry, but I get side tracked. A lot happened in rehab)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reminiscing on Rehab #2

So where did we leave off? Oh yeah, "love" letters.

The majority of the notes I received read exactly this, "DO YOU LIKE ME?" and simply had two empty boxes. One to check off YES and the other NO. That was it.

Deep. I know.

Of course there were variations of the notes ranging from the classic "DO YOU THINK I'M PRETTY?" to "I WANT TO BANG YOUR BRAINS OUT BEHIND THE TOOL SHED." (That was the PG version).

I was lucky enough to befriend older, wiser people who taught me the ways of The Force since they had been to rehab already. The easiest way to get kicked out of rehab is to get caught with a note. My mentor, Anthony, instructed that any note I received from a girl, no matter now tempting it was to respond, must be destroyed.

"It's evidence...," he would say dramatically, as if we were speaking of a dead body.  "It must be disposed of..."

"But if I don't respond, how will she know she's pretty?!"

"Go back to the dorm, tear it up into tiny pieces, and flush it down the toilet..."

This became the norm for my buddies and I. Collect notes in class, go back to dorm, flush, repeat. Everyday. It's reasons such as this that the majority of people kicked out of rehab were women. Not for sneaking drugs in or having sex (though it did happen) but for getting caught with notes. While men destroyed the evidence, women did the opposite and held on to their "mementos of love" to cherish forever. Ultimately, this would be their downfall. Don't get me wrong, the guys were no better. Well, the White Tags like myself were fine, the Yellow Tags on the other hand were not.

Yellow Tags were the biggest hypocrites around. Let me paint a picture here for you. Every day around 9:30 or so we would have what was called a Men's Rap. This was the only group we had that wasn't monitored by a counselor and it consisted of just us guys. Half my stint in rehab the group leader of the Men's Rap was a dude named Lavertis. Did you guys know that Lavertis went to jail for 15 years for killing a man? Cause he did. I only mention that not to scare you but because he brought it up every day at group, sometimes several times within the hour. Don't get me wrong, compared to 90% of the other guys, Lavertis actually had a good head on his shoulders. Voluntary manslaughter aside... not a bad dude.

At the beginning of each Rap, Lavertis would be tasked with announcing the messages from the counselors. Every. Single. Day. The same topic was brought up. "Stop disrespecting women." Every day! Which would lead to Lavertis' "Scared Straight" tactic where he would yell at us about disrespecting women for 15 minutes of our hour long Rap. This worked in my favor the days I didn't feel like talking but also usually left me with a splitting headache the rest of the day (Only 12 more hours til lights out!). It did however give us some fantastic material. Imitating Lavertis became a favorite game for my friends and I, along with counting how many times Lavertis would say "man" in a rant. Top score was 67 "man's" in 14 minutes tallied by yours truly.

So in these rants Lavertis would scream at us for shaming women and all the while his fellow Yellow Tags sat back nodding their heads in agreement. When Lavertis was done, they would all take turns chiming in with the same bullshit "Yeah man, Lavertis is right. You guys can't keep doing this shit. It's disrespectful. I don't know about you, but I want to get back home to my wife and kids." This grew tiresome to me because the ones getting lectured were not to blame for these acts.

Do you know who were the one always getting caught in bed with women? I will give you just one guess.

Surprise! The Yellow Tags. I know I know, it doesn't make sense, right? I mean, they said they loved their wives and children. They said their family was the reason they were getting better. Their reason for living, even. They said they didn't want their kids to grow up with out a father. They said they would do what ever it takes to NOT go back to prison and to just finish their remaining months in rehab and go home.

And 80% of them threw it all away. Some guys had only been there a few days before they caved. Others broke down mere weeks before going home. Now I know their experience was much different than mine. They had to stay 8 months longer than I did, plus they had already been in prison for a set number of years before arriving at rehab, so that is a much longer time to go without female interaction. But every day they would talk about their families, show us pictures and the like, making it really hard to feel sorry for them once they cheated on their loved ones and got thrown back in jail. Their families on the other hand I really felt bad for.

Yellow Tags came and went during my 27 days there but no dismissal had a bigger backlash than the one that simply became known only as "The Carolina Incident"...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Reminiscing on Rehab #1

Awhile back I posted the letters I had wrote to my friends while in rehab. Going over them brought back a lot of memories of my time there and I wanted to share more about the experiences but I wanted to let some time pass after the letters before continuing. Last night got me thinking about it again while I was watching the movie 28 Days. Yes I'm talking about the Sandra Bullock movie and YES I wept like an infant while shoveling mounds of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream down my throat...

O.K. those last two things aren't true but I DID watch the movie. I noticed it was on Netflix Instant and a lot of people in recovery recommend watching it. So while I watched Sandra cope with her demons I took a little trip down memory laaaaannnneee.... (cue wavy flash back effect)

In my Letters From Rehab it was pretty evident there was one thing constantly on my mind at all times. Another addiction that stared me directly in the face daily and taunted me at every moment possible. It wasn't locked up and hidden behind closed doors, oh no my friends, it was constantly just out of reach like a carrot dangling before a horse.

I'm talking of course about women.

Sure, I was battling my inner demons when it came to alcohol every waking moment (sometimes even in my sleep) but bottles of vodka weren't strutting around the grounds in short shorts and tank tops. They had a strict dress policy for women in rehab which meant all shorts had to be below the knees. Something Katie, whom I mentioned in the letters, and some of the other ladies either didn't comprehend or didn't care which was both a blessing and a curse.

When people ask me to describe what rehab was like it's fairly simple. It is a cross between prison, summer camp, and Middle School. Strange combination, no? Surprisingly it's the least like prison. I only say prison because you are not allowed to leave the grounds and you have scheduled meals. That's about it. The Summer Camp aspect of it is that we were up in the mountains, beautiful outdoor setting, and there were games and activities. We were outside an absurd amount of time looking back on it and it was probably the longest I've been outdoors since I was 11.

So where does the Middle School part come in? Both men and women, no matter what age, seem to regress in age significantly. As if puberty had just struck the whole campus in unison. Every day we had to read the Rules and Regulations in class and the one thing that was stressed more than anything else was NO FRATERNIZING. For each class, men sat on one side of the room and women sat on the other with a gap down the middle of about 3-4 feet. Now you can only imagine most of us gathered towards the aisle of our respective sides in order to be as close as humanly possible to  the opposite sex. I was one of them as noted in my letter where I mention getting to class early to secure my spot near my future wife. There were a few exceptions of course, the "cool guys" who sat in the far back alone leaning their chair against the wall acting tough. I found myself laughing, a lot, at these guys because I thought the whole Judd Nelson from the Breakfast Club act was pretty dated. But they were "cool" and from prison so they could break me in half with just their pinkies so I kept my snide remarks to myself.

I guess I only mentioned these guys briefly in my letters and didn't really give much detail on what their deal was. There was an entire group of people who had come from prison, hence why I referred to them as "The Convicts" in my letter. They had been to court and scored a deal where they would have their prison sentence reduced if they came to rehab for 9 months. Pass the 9 months and you can go back home. Break any of those rules, and your ass is right back in prison. Think you could go 9 months without flirting with the opposite sex? Few could.

So the prison people were referred to as "New Horizon" which was their group name or just "Yellow Tags" as their name tags were yellow. Clever! Mine was the standard white (complete with Spider-man and anime drawings scribbled around my name) which the majority of us had and the last group was "Safe Harbor" or the "Pink Tags", who were the women either with child or had recently given birth.

So anyway, back to fraternizing! (I will be constantly jumping around so just bear with me.) Now when I say all our minds regressed in rehab I have to specifically call out the girls a bit more because they were the ones that acted on it most AND the most obvious about it. Have you ever had both a 35 year old and a 19 year old pass you love notes on the same day?

Cause I have.

But what could a love note in rehab possibly say to someone who you have not only never spoken to once but has been in your life for a maximum of 48 hours....?

... oh shoot. Look at the time. I'm gonna have to leave off here. Guess we'll get more into the rehab romances in the next one!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm just gonna type and see where this goes...

Having one of those moments where I just need to get my thoughts down on paper (computer?) as it calms my nerves and allows me to vent. This whole Colorado Batman Shooting just hit me in a strange way. I constantly bitch and moan about the obnoxious people I see every day blocking handicap ramps with their cars so the old lady in the wheelchair can't get up the curb or the jerkoff who drives into oncoming traffic because he's was texing on his phone. But that's just plain stupidity, and sadly, we often just shrug it off because stupidity has become the norm. "Why did he just do that?" "Because he's an inconsiderate idiot." "Ohhh yeah..." But what happened in Colorado is something I can't really wrap my head around. The latest news I read about the shooting mentioned the youngest killed in the attack was a 6 year old girl and my heart just broke. 

6 years old. And she was shot and killed. Cause she went to go see Batman. 

It was nauseating to just type that. 

The girl's mother was shot in the throat and abdomen, was paralyzed in critical condition and was not informed of her daughter's death until later.

I guess when I first heard of the shooting the thought of small children being involved didn't enter my mind considering the movie was at midnight. Then I thought back to the experience at my midnight premiere. People of all ages, shapes, and sizes had all gathered together for a common love of something. I remember staring at the snake-like mass that seemed to wrap itself around two floors of a lobby and being overwhelmed at how awesome it was that we were all here for the same reasons. The "Sean of Old", as he will be referred, would think they were all a bunch of phonies, Holden Caulfield style. "These people don't like Batman like I like Batman," he'd shout. "They're just hopping on the comic book bandwagon!" Because back then I was a geek before being a geek was considered "cool." But I don't view things that way anymore and that night for me, seeing Batman on the big screen hit me on an emotional level for several different (personal) reasons which I will go into more detail in a future post. 

So who would have thought that a theater of people doing the exact same thing I was 1500 miles away would have such a tragic experience?

The moment it all became REAL to me was a screenshot someone posted of a woman's Twitter feed expressing her excitement to see Batman. A similar picture next to it was of a man, a friend of the woman, tweeting to her to see if she was OK. He had heard about the shooting, knew his friend was at that theater, and she was worried because she wasn't answering her phone.

There's reading the news articles of the people involved and then there's reading their actual Twitter feeds. The last thing the girl posted was "MOVIE DOESN'T START FOR 20 MINUTES." That was 3 days ago and it hasn't updated since. 

As a means of remembering her name, or seeing if family would post on her behalf, I added her to my Twitter even though I knew she was gone. The next day I saw actress Marlee Matlin recommend we all "follow" her on Twitter to show our support. Having already been following I was aware she had a decent number of followers but that number skyrocketed the past few days by 20,000. Even going from 27,500 to 28,004 just while typing this. Incredible. It doesn't seem like much but if I were one of her family members and I saw those numbers it would show me how much people actually cared.

Doing a little research, however, I found something rather disturbing and made me feel sick all over again. This woman, Jessica, was shot and killed in the theater just a MONTH after narrowly escaping another shooting at her local mall! What in the hell is going on here?! She's been in not one but two horrific gun incidents in the span of a month. Here is the link to her blog about the first shooting and her thoughts on the aftermath...

Jessica's Blog

Could you imagine surviving an experience like that only to have it happen all over again? 

I will never know what possesses people to do the things they do. All I know is that I live my life every day knowing I surround myself with great friends, an amazing family, and that no matter how bad life can get I  always have someone to turn to.

Not someone to turn on...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Phone Test

So this is a test. I have acquired a Blogger App for my Droid and am typing this to you from work.

Since Im at work I will post a work related picture of my coworker with an extremely tall individual...

Monday, July 9, 2012


I've decided to keep a log while I'm taking care of my friend's cat...

9:57 AM
Friend drops off cat at my house along with food, litter box, treats, and other assorted cat goodies. The cat, Midnight, casts cold, dark stares in my direction. His fur, as black as the cape off a Sith Lord, shines from the rays of sunlight creeping through the nearby window. I am assured by my friend I have nothing to worry about and that we will have a "great time" though I am skeptical. A quick glance into Midnight's yellow eyes tells me to feel differently.

10:07 AM
Friend asks what my plans are for the day and although my back is in crucial pain, I jokingly mention the cat and I will play "Circle of Life." A slight chill ran down my neck as soon as the words escaped my lips as Midnight shot me a look that could only translate to "The fuck we are." It was so quick I couldn't be certain and just chalked it up to my imagination.

12:02 PM
My "decorative" Spider-man pillow mysteriously moved from the couch to my bed. Cat is unfazed but seems to relish in my confusion.

12:46 PM
Spider-man pillow now flipped over from Spider-man Red side to Spider-man Black Suit side in what I can only assume is some cryptic message foreshadowing my future downfall.

3:47 PM
While playing Fallout: New Vegas I left the Playstation 3 paused for a moment while I visited the restroom. Upon my return, a save file had been deleted and my character had lost 15 karma points for detonating a rocket. Midnight, perched on the television set, rested peacefully...

6:01 PM
I return home from the grocery store to the aroma of freshly baked.... something. As I rounded the corner I was surprised to find a warm pizza waiting for me on the kitchen table, a Monster Energy Drink can, already opened, sat next to it, beads of condensation dripping down the sides. Assuming my room mate had returned home from work and had cooked himself a nice dinner, I was shocked to immediately hear the front door unlock and my room mate stroll in behind me. I asked him if the pizza was his and he explained he had been at work all day and was just now arriving home. Not wanting to sound crazy, I admitted to making it myself, and introduced him to our new house guest Midnight, who was playfully batting around the Spider-man pillow on the couch.

The same Spider-man pillow that is normally upstairs...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Amazing Spider-man

People keep asking me what I thought of the new Spider-man movie and I have no idea why *eyeroll* so I figured it be easier to share here. To put it simply, I loved it.

Ohh surprise surprise! Sean loved a Spider-man movie, no shocker there. Well, let me explain something first. I don't know exactly how to put it into words to be honest, but I view things differently in sobriety. I've become less obsessive over things like this. In the past, I would be counting down the days til a new Spider-man movie was coming out. Or watching the Avengers trailer 100 times a day analyzing it until the premiere. But I didn't do any of that.

Yeah, I grew up. Who knew?

It's weird right? But don't let that scare you. I obviously still love all these things, that will never change, I am just now enjoying it on a more normal, healthy level. Ya get me? Though if my Facebook/Twitter is any indication, Star Wars is still a daily part of my life. So that said, I went into Spider-man with only seeing the trailer about 3 times. I didn't read all the articles online, leaked photos, magazines or anything. I went into the theater knowing as much as the Average Joe. Well, maybe above average (truth.)

What I did know going in was there would be a lot of Peter Parker over Spider-man as they decided to do some new, revamped origin story involving his parents. That's all well and good and all, but did we really need the origin story AGAIN? Even people who don't care about Spidey know his origin.

Spider bite, powers, great power, great responsibility, etc...

But from here on out there will be SPOILERS regarding the new film...

Not many people can say "I can jump from here.... and live!"

Alright, now let's get into this. Like I mentioned, I didn't think another origin story was necessary but their take on this was enough to grab my attention. Peter's parents, Richard and Mary, aren't spoken of much in the comic books so here they are trying to give us some "untold story" into their past, their connection with Oscorp, and their mysterious death. This movie is the first in an already planned trilogy, so here they are merely planting the seeds of mystery. I wasn't "wowed" by these scenes, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little curious on this take in the Spidey mythos. Discussing with a friend of mine, he mentioned he doesn't remember this from the comics. That's because it's not. Like Batman Begins, it's a different take on the origin which for me, I'll accept because, to put it simply... it's different. It's NEW and it's different. I don't need an exact retread of the story all over again. Change it up. Keep me on my toes. 

The wrestling match from the comics/original movie? Not here.

Mary Jane? No sir

Gwen Stacey? Oh god yes..

The biggest plus for me is having Gwen over Mary Jane. While not my ideal candidate for the character I do have to admit Emma Stone nailed it out of the park here (knee highs and that hairband? Dear lord...). It is impossible not to fall for her in this flick as she's infectiously adorable. Her scenes with Peter are some of the best in the movie. But I'm sure most are wondering why Gwen over Mary Jane Watson. Simple. Gwen was Spidey's first true love. MJ was chosen for the original trilogy because she's the most recognizable. It's a popularity contest, really. You have to give the audience something they are familiar with or they are going to be confused. Which leads us to the biggest and most fantastic change over the original films...

Mechanical Web-shooters.

This single-handedly made the movie for me because not only did it show him with the mechanical web-shooters (like it's supposed to be) but it portrays Peter as the genius he really is. So why did they make the web-shooters organic in the originals. Simple. It's an easy sell. People need the simplest answer for why something happens. I had talked to MANY people who had no idea Peter actually created his web-shooters himself. To them, it doesn't make sense. Why should he have to build them? He was bit by a spider that gave him super powers so logically he should be able to shoot webs, right?

This is why it was done in the originals as organic. It's easier to accept. For some reason it makes perfect sense to tell someone all these things are possible because he was bitten by a magical spider. But if you say that Peter was an incredibly smart individual and crafted the mechanics himself, then suddenly that's too much for ones brain to handle.

So as a fanboy, this was a joy for me. Watching him build them, seeing the web cartridges, having the Lizard crush his wrists and breaking them (!!). That was key for me because running out or fluid or having them break is what made Spider-man more vulnerable. 

Oh man, and there's a scene in the sewer where Spider-man actually creates a web formation that he perches on (and plays games on his cell) while waiting for the vibrations in the webbing to point him in the direction of the Lizard. Bloody brilliant.

For now, I will leave it at this. It's getting way too hot sitting here at the computer but I will continue this another day, preferably after seeing the film again which I plan on doing soon...