Friday, May 6, 2011

While I was gone ...

While the last time I disappeared for a while was for the photo-shoot with Lindsay Lohan, this time around the hateful heifer kidnapped me. There I was, minding my own business, mourning the loss of the Czarina Warrenina Joskes - Keeper of the Faith, Queen of the Steppes, Empress of all the Russias - a Living and Breathing Deity Who Deigns to Walk Among Us to Bring Us Grace and Beauty, mourning her in appropriate fashion - hitting every bar in town, when all of a sudden, in the midst of some illicit activities with Leopold and Loaded, la Lohan came along and suckered me down her primrose path.

Now, admittedly, she only inspired me to be bad, rather than making me behave badly, but the damage was done - and my PO was none too pleased. All things considered, the kidnapping went smoothly. I was briefly in Bexar Co. jail, where they were staging "'Oz': the Reunion Special - a Gangsta Rap Musical," but after a limited run there, I took the show on the road - to San Diego, Texas and a little slice of heaven run by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It was like prison - replete with white uniforms and open-air toilets, but with counselors and an over-arching theme of recovery.

It is typically true that wherever I go, there I am ... and I say that not to be philosophical but to make the point that I am a bit much in a big city. I am a whirlwind of gay and wit, not unlike a Noel Coward production, and no one was putting on "Blithe Spirit" in San Diego, I assure you. It was just south of Hell, 105 degrees when I got there in August, with no air conditioning and a prison full of overweight Hispanic prison guards with small-town attitudes and a tendency to giggle when I walked into a room.

Personally, I consider it a gift that I can make people smile wherever I go, but I am less thrilled about it when, rather than smile and move along, they decide to tell me I'm going to burn in hell. And there was the sergeant who asked me if I was a plumber, in the free world ... because I "obviously like to handle pipes." And there was the female guard who said "you shake your ass more than I do ..." and referred to me as "girl" in front of a long line of prisoners, who then took it upon themselves to jeer, cat-call and do very rude things with their hands.

A few grievances later, the sergeant who said - of the way I walk - "You're here for treatment, not to look for love ..." got fired and the guard who called me girl got moved to a shift where I never had to see her. Three months into my 6 months stay in San Diego, I became the Program Director's personal assistant - a handy job that meant I got get out of groups, had limited access to a lot of power, and my days in an air-conditioned office, writing speeches and designing presentations while my boss played guitar and sang country songs.

This particular kidnapping was a two-phase process. The first phase was the gangsta rap musical in San Diego, but the contract called for another 3 months run in Houston - at a little theater/halfway house called Cheyenne, the Cheyenne Center.

A gangsta rap musical was a bit more fitting in Houston than it was in San Diego, but - as the Cheyenne Center banned radios and, in essence, all music - my plans to hoof it next to Lohan three nights a week went down the drain, and all I got was the lousy treatment.

The truth is that I had high hopes, when I got to H-town, of finding work and starting my life all over - sober and in a new location. Times are tough, even for a star with comeback plans ... and a hell of a resume. Give or take one job interview - to which I arrived an hour late, because of one bus arriving four minutes late, and the connecting bus being three minutes early - each bus only running once every hour, and the whole trip taking 138 minutes in the first place, I only managed to secure one interview in 90 days.

And, I should mention, that upon arriving to that interview - an hour late, I had to cross a rather large lawn to get into the building. The gardeners working to maintain this beautiful, enormous yard, couldn't have known I am allergic to fresh-cut grass, and yet I still recall the look of general bemusement on their faces when, my eyes watering, I fell into a ditch.

It was a small ditch, so I was only down for a minute or two before - brushing the grass from my facial hair and off my leather jacket - I emerged, some vestige of my pride still intact and ambled into Bank of America to get to my potential temp agency employer. Needless to say, I was not impressed. The woman I was there to see came out, asked me why I hadn't called (cell phones were also banned in Cheyenne), and was mentally rolling her eyes as I tried to offer an explanation - while picking an errant piece of grass off my Armani shirt. Ultimately, she said - rather kindly, "Why don't we reschedule? You can come back ... when you're more together."

But I didn't go back, which would perhaps suggest that I never got it together. In fact, my brethren at Cheyenne - who I lovingly referred to as the homeless, illiterate, and not quite right in the head - tended to get in a lot of trouble. It started with cussin'; the staff complained that too many people were walking around casually cussin', which was dubbed "disrespectful to the female staff." Apparently, the male staff were fine with it. And then there was the epidemic of sagging pants. None of us took any of this seriously, until someone got bitch-slapped in an AA meeting. Two back-hands later, Cheyenne locked us down - no phone, no job searching, and no movement.

I spent my last 5 weeks in Houston doing nothing productive, but the last 4 weeks I was in charge. The homeless, illiterate, and not quite right in the head elected me their leader, and between my micro-managing attention to detail, and yelling at damned near everyone, I got us off lock-down - effective the day after I left town.

After all the hard work, all the (proverbial) blood, sweat, and tears, I left Cheyenne with a messenger bag full of designer clothes, wearing four pairs of shoes, and with one word, "'Bye."

I crept back into San Antonio on Greyhound, 'round midnight. And while I can't say that I'm entirely happy to be home, I've certainly been worse places. I know one thing for sure, I ain't goin' nowhere with Lohan no mo'; that white girl is hateful.


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