As the other men looked on , I got a chance to tell my chap story of what happened in August 1968.
I make my own arrangements now. I didn’t up to this point.
If a resident felt like sharing it was a scarcity. We’d been bestowed upon friends. I have two
roommates/friends, Tony and Jamal. We share a bathroom, kitchen, and living space.
Tony asked, “Could you mop the kitchen floor for me?”
“No, not really,” I replied. The dishwasher hummed and it was cold outdoors. Tony is an
Italian American . He has short dark hair, about 5 ’ 10” and not a good set of teeth. He has a mole
on his left cheek .
I addressed him, “could you please turn off the music so I can go to bed?”
Well, my new resolution for the New Year was a plan to move to the west. I am saying
the real west, as in Montana, Colorado. Eileen and I were going to stay at the co-op, and it will be
only for one weekend, a four-day weekend.
I had been doing well with my hobbies- photography, Plaster of Paris sculptures and some painting
with acrylic. As my father once told me, hobbies can turn into gold digging.
“It is again a day for a snow removal job!” claimed my roommates to me. Jamal is
is an east Indian with dark skin , face and he is slim. He asked, “Why don’t you take up a new
I decided to walk to downtown Montpelier. I had dropped off some film at a drugstore in the snowy
afternoon. “It looks like a blizzard. It’s snowing!” I exclaimed jubilantly.
We were busy with snow shoveling here in Montpelier for the town and they were going
to pay us. A place called Sunset Bluff is my dad’s house where he lives in Greenport, New
York, with his wife, Dorothy. I prepared a warm set of clothing for this awful weather.
Tony said, “I’ll do these dishes after I smoke a cigarette.”
I did my chores, then I said to Jamal, “Jamal we have to get out of this shelter and find a place
where I can manage my own phone and a car!” Most of the residents hate getting their chores done. What is wrong with
our living accommodation?
“We have to move forward,” Jamal retorted. “You just picked some things out of the
garbage,” he continued. “You didn’t mean to throw them away, did you?”
I had thrown away some mail from the Black Otter Guide Service of Pray, Montana.
“Hey, Jamal and Tony, these outfitters are offering wilderness vacations in the town of
Pray, Montana.” I had worked there years ago. And I had taken their wilderness vacation once.
Dad had been really unpleasant as of late.
Should I answer the phone? My dad had called. There is a public pay telephone in the
foyer of the house. We didn’t discuss much. Then a counselor addressed me in conversation.
Think about what you can do with what you hold, a woman said as honest advice.
The telephone card gave me very little time left and I had a key to the room, given to me
by a woman who works there.
“You’ll try not to go to bed too late, alright buddy!” Jamal said. “Good night,” I replied.
Tony, Jamal, and I awoke around nine. Today I will be riding to various locations on the county
bus. I gave a thought about my best woman friend, Eileen.
It was a very frigid day and I was forced to see a doctor. We are driven to our
appointments by taxi on Route. 100. A woman at the shelter questioned me when I returned,
“Did you get your blood work?”
“Yes, I did.” I answered. She is an ex-drill sergeant. Again in the room after dusk: “Good
night men,” I said to Jamal and Tony. The shelter where I stay seems to be cold and
impersonable. I am a bit scared in my mood in starting to live here. But I know about myself,
I am very spoiled and have had juvenile iniquities maturing but I’m not lazy and I am really willing to work and put my best foot forward. Again the issue persists ,
I need to get a base where I can manage my telephone charges, have a car, and a
I traveled west by bus to Waitsfield with a roommate and we stopped at a diner. ”Jamal,”
I said, “could you order me a cereal and coffee?” “Why don’t you order your own?” Jamal
answered. While having breakfast, I was thinking of my sister, Pam. “It is my sister’s birthday
(December 27).” I said out loud.
“Oh yeah, how old is she?” Jamal asked. “Fifty,” I said. I thought to myself, “I will call
her on the telephone.” At the diner, I ate my breakfast and we paid the check. I spent the rest of
this day job hunting. I walked out to the businesses. Quick walks to the shops are a regular
There had been sub-zero temperatures and an even colder wind chill factor. Everyone
needs to shop for jobs. It is like a full-time job just looking for work. I did not like my minimal
economic budget. I rode the bus to different local merchants and priced the things I’d like to buy.
It was tough to stand around in the cold, waiting for buses and shops. I got an idea. I tried to
reach my brother Rob at the co-op in Vermont, but heard no one home at the vacation home.Long
ago, I listened to the 1967 hit by the Turtles called “Happy Together” and that chalet in
Waitsfield, Vermont, was a happy vacation home. I couldn’t bed down there now because it is
willed to Rob, after our father dies. And, in addition, the legal clause states that no one can live
there year-round. Rob and I have talked of this song by the Turtles and we bought a lot of music
from that era. One LP Rob turned me on to was by The Doors.
This place that we are in is called Spring Lake Ranch in the Green Mountains
of Vermont. I had to get away from home and soon.
I have a small room in a house with two floors and a huge lawn. The room is upstairs and
there are three beds in it. Jamal asked, “Is that your laundry in
the machines down in the basement?” “Yes,” I replied. “The machine just buzzed,” he said. The
buzz signals that the wash is over. So with the cold winter outside, I was warm inside and I went
to the basement and proudly gathered up my clothes and put them in the dryer. Then I said to
Jamal and Tony, “It really feels like winter, I like the snow.” I added to the two, “I only wish I
had some tax refunds coming in April so I’d have some cash, but that won’t happen. I haven’t
held a job in my life. My goals for living here, are to handle a vocation and work to become independent and make my moods more stable , less scary but good and lovely. I have scarcily lived. Are you glad I moved in with you two?” No responses. It was our first
evening and becoming friends so we stay together: Jamal, Tony and Steve. The next day the
weather was cold and the sky was blue. There is nothing definite except death and taxes in this
world. A common slogan that holds true. In a doctor’s appointment
a therapist quoted me. “Tell me about some of your
relationships,” she said in session. I know my love life is pitiful. I hoped all along to possibly
date Eileen. She never let me in. Maybe grandiose expectations failed in the new relationship. I
have no girlfriend. “What have you been doing?” the counselor asked.
I carry my binoculars as I did when I was a teenager. I don’t have paying work, but I am
doing chores. I have wanted to be a professional top notch executive all of my life. But my psyche has to become a good, more positive one and writing helps. Instead, these days I am cleaning and
doing what I am told. The work around the CR in Spring Lake Ranch doesn’t rest. There are
many health problems that are coming upon me in these middle-age years. I experienced prostate
cancer and GERD, which is acid reflex. After the appointment/session I reunited in the CR.
I said to Tony, “My dad and I have a long-distance relationship but it is a good father-son
bond.” I spend some hours each day on a computer.
Usually I never get any e-mails. On my way out of the house, Tony asks every time,
“Where are you going?” I go to the library and it is a short trip so I walk.
Once, on the way home, the bus broke down and everyone exited so I walked back.
Could you believe there was an oil leak and everyone lit up cigarettes anyway? I would not.
It was relaxing to watch a movie today. I saw the “Heartbreak Kid” . It has been a month now and all this time I have been going to program. I am not
happy about attending groups. It is a social place but people are grumpy and smoke a lot so they
also want to borrow, beg, or steal. I want to be rich and right now!
“Are there no concrete rules to adhere to?” Jamal asked out of the blue. “Jamal,” I said,
“do whatever you want, just be good.” “I am always good,” Jamal answered.
I do a lot of work voluntarily around the house I live in with others.
A man called Neil and I went for walks at the park mainly to get away from the CR in the
evening and basically because he and I were the most athletic. He moved back with family, his
brother. I can never go back to family, but I can still go homeward in my thoughts and head. That would be a mistake because of a long absence from a regular routine. It is a dream to go back with the old family and not the cold remorse reality of what life really is holding for me now. It is no longer my birthday , everyday with cake and ice cream and making wishes. I will no longer be taken up on a silver spoon lifestyle.
Our new housing is to be occupied by three and I am with Jamal and Tony. At first, I didn’t
get along, but after a while I adjusted. “Straighten up, Steve” I said to myself.
I consider myself like most, to be a heathen. Valentine’s Day is approaching .Today, I took the bus
through Montpelier and went to Clubhouse (the ranch’s workplace for people
with psychiatric/financial illiteracy difficulties) and that day there I had lunch. As I walked into
the building, I was hoping to see Eileen but she was not there to meet me. Well, it is already the
hump day for the week: Wednesday. At the Clubhouse, I did some computer viewing. It is a thing
that I do well so I should carry on with it. Programming is what I did well a long time ago. I
think about carrying on with it. It required a lot of brain power. It’s a combination of numbers
and language. I studied the languages of Basic and Fortran for one semester.
Even though winter is not officially over, signs of spring are showing. It is very warm
outside. The sun is shining and there is blue sky and the days are getting longer. There are birds
chirping. A few blue jays are here. Also, I saw a red-winged blackbird flying in a flock of
This is the check that belongs to you. Please deposit it into your bank and please think
several times before you spend it. I will speak to you soon
I was up early on Saturday morning. I feel a lot better with people of my equal stature in
brains, and the CR in Spring Lake Ranch is definitely a hand up from living in shelters. We all
have to see doctors, go to programs, and carry a label but it is warm in a house and as I say, I
have three hots and a cot. That is, we have three hot meals and a bed to sleep on (it refers to
people incarcerated). Living with others means some amount of care and doing what we are told.
We all have to listen to someone at some time in our lives. So I start now and I don’t give up.
The counselors were encouraging me to join a program, the town’s Day Treatment Center.
As it was a holiday (President’s Day), it was moved forward a day. I was denied lunch at
the interview because I am not a member yet.
“It was an awful place to spend a day,” Jamal told me.
“The clinic does not do anything productive,” Tony interjected.
Again, I dislike the grumpy attitudes, the smoking all the time, and the borrowing. But
this day was a good day as I got a chance to go over my resume with a certified social worker.
“I just like to write!” I imagined to myself. The days and weeks go by with very little
Well, today is Ash Wednesday and I was at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, New York,
visiting my dad. He was walking with a cane. He had had a knee replacement. At the hospital,
there was a church service. Just being with my Dad is the best of religion for me, for today he is
alive and walking, and, I told this to him.
On a bus to the local library in pouring rain, I felt easy and comfortable. The weather
stayed foggy and rainy. When I arrived at the library, I discovered I was a little early. Inside the
building, I researched Certified Social Worker. I wanted to prepare for the civil service exam in
this field. Later, after I went back, I lost confidence and interest in applying for the position. I
cannot keep a position of employment. It is because of my lack of abilities, it’s not because of
the illness. I never had much of a will or work ethic and my skills are minimal.
On a dreaming occasion, I also hung out at the doors of the Montpelier Public Library
and it turned out to be like taking a daydream . Waiting for them to open, I had few thoughts. My
mind was tight and condensed. And I put on ‘peace of mind’ by the band Boston on the walkman. The world
to spin slowly. Music is what feelings sound like. So the question to answer is , “if music be the food
of love , play on!” That eased my mind. Ah it seems as if I am up to no good
and people want to be cautious with me. In a counseling session I blurted out, “They think they
have a use for me and I think they are just crackpots. I no longer want to
be friends, I’d rather not be near them. I’d prefer to have a friendship with my co-op neighbor,
Rob .” It’s hard to break out of the old friends circle and start anew.
On the first day without a program, I walked to the stores with the idea to buy clothes. Or at least I
dreamed of buying clothes for myself. I didn’t have the money. Later
on, it turns out, I am able to order many pairs of blue jeans through a catalog
When I thought of Eileen asking me to give her a telephone call I stopped inside the mall and I
shopped. I had my eyes examined. I never bought a pair of glasses but I received them through
my Medicaid benefits. I came home on the bus because it is the cheapest way to travel, I told
Tony. The bus fare is reduced with benefits. Years later, I bought glasses with better frames for
There seems to be some peace in the house. It is much better. I was getting settled at the
residence and people seemed to like me. I talked with Jamal before dinner. He asked, “So, are
you going to the Halloween party?”
“ No,” I replied. “I just telephoned Eileen to ask her out on a date to the Haunted House
in Waterbury, Vermont, for Halloween.”
“Yo,” said Jamal,
It was nasty outside so I watched the movie, “Harry Potter and The Deathly. Hollows”
The end of the film was great and I had read the story a long while ago
I arrived to a sleepy house after a hard day. I had been riding to different locations all
day. Really tough!
I called Eileen back (she had left me a message). “Eileen, I don’t have the money for the
Haunted House and to tell you the truth, I am a little frightened by it. So will you go to the
Halloween party with me?”
“Sure,” she said. Eileen is a heavy set, good looking woman with short blond hair.
We said goodbye and hung up. I just love the simple, genuine,
agreeable nature of her. Looks like I will go to the party after all, I said to Jamal.
“So, you, you, you are going with Eileen? That’s good,” he stuttered. It is a lazy Sunday
and we began talking in the room.
“I have memories of the hospital about one year ago,” Tony said. “I was in the V.A.
hospital.” Jamal kept quiet. We are all frightened by mental illness
The group home had a Halloween party and it was a success.
I think that productive work is hard and I should have signed up for ROTC but I didn’t. I
was a landscaper in the agency that I live in. Jobs that require only a use of brains are rare
indeed. I suppose I wanted to be a computer programmer. I only took one class in it. It was so
difficult to learn. I didn’t get enough education in computers. If you want to be in business, you
have to produce, work with both hands and put your back into your work. My father was a
lawyer and I just went through and through with my education, never focusing on what career I
should choose. The work that Tony does is fairly simple. It is business but he doesn’t take home
much money. Jamal simply socializes at the Clubhouse. I have a desire to really go at full
potential in a job so I can have money! I need to find a job.
Again in our room. Tony always loves to sing., They are my best friends.
I’ll have a college
degree, however, I want these jobs that are too high for my qualifications. New college
graduates have to not aim so high, especially low GPA’s like myself. I want to be rich. And right
now, Tony says the same. Jamal, well we don’t know what he wants. I know how I felt about a
hospital years ago. And I know how I feel about the present.
We’d been in a coerced situation. Today I get tired of productive work. I just want to kick back
and relax after a work week to the weekend calendar, football. So, here I have presented a
week in the group home that I am living in now. Always a truly laid back weekend!
There are five or six years of this nonsense that they called home for people with
psychiatric afflictions. “When does it get any better?” asked Tony.
“A lot of people are still taking advantage of freedom riding on the trains.” I said
“They are doing what ? “ asked Tony.
“They get on the Amtrak train, then walk off or hide in the lavatory before a conductor
comes by to collect tickets. The Montpelier bus is only a half a dollar and gets me going places,”
I concluded. I went to Waitsfield to walk around and I visited the Memorial Library. Later in the
day, I went to the high school track and ran four laps or one mile. I find it good to try to be fit. In
reality though, I am 239 pounds, overweight, and I am not athletic at all. Ah, how good it must
be to be in super shape. I mentioned my day to my roommates.
Jamal had gum in his dresser. What a mess!
I rode the fifty-cent bus once in the morning. There were stratus clouds in the sky
threatening to rain after a sunny morning. I saw a laundry shop ad for help wanted and I went in
and got an application. Then I rode the bus back. At home, I tried to get my head together so I
made a resume and filled out the application. I took the same bus to give the paperwork to the
proprietor. It was fickle weather. The clouds were white and gray. I got the bus and it began to
rain. As it began raining on the way home (from the second trip) I said, “This is ridiculous, I
can’t ride a bus this far everyday for a small job.”
In conclusion, I got home and looked over some old college course listings and my GPA.
I just have a disgust against spending the day watching TV or sleeping. I know I picked it up
from the family. I get joy from the diverse activities I keep busy with. I like studying foreign
languages, programming computers, keeping a diary, and outdoor work, especially raking leaves.
I also like to look at night stars and match them up to a night sky map.
Looking over my old college course listings and my GPA is often interesting.