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Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
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Gazebo Group

Abracadabra - Hurl your lightning bolt even unto Death.

You must break down before you break through.

In 1997 my writing and life were shit.

One wet winter Pacific Coast morning, I drove to a Tacoma hospital and checked into the chemical dependency unit for three days of alcohol detox.

After admission I took an elevator to the third floor. Workmen stripped, sanded and plastered walls.

Room #310 had a bed near a window, old metal locker, sink, mirror, ancient radiator and TV. The window overlooked a grassy area with a wooden gazebo, flowers and basketball court.

Mike was next door and Tom was across the hall. Tom resembled a skeleton with skin. He stayed in bed until he died.

“The hospital was originally used by railroad workers and was a TB unit at one time which is why there is no pediatric unit,” said Nurse Blossom. One wing of the third floor was for Bipolar, multiple dependencies and mental illness. Suicide cases lived in a penthouse on the fifth floor.

She took a urine sample and gave me Ada-van medication for withdrawals. Pills replaced lost chemicals.

By evening my journal writing evolved from large loopy letters into a tight microscopic form. Form the formless. I wandered down to the gazebo to smoke and write in cold night air.

My new drug was water. I swallowed meds and slept well. In the morning I felt the meds were erasing alcohol and cleaning my system. I scribbled in my journal.

My legs feel like rubber. My mind is a monkey. I write in the garden. Substance abuse evaporates. Alcohol relinquishes Control of mind-body mass.

In late afternoon I sat in the gazebo feeling drained, suffering extreme headaches. Light danced through clouds.

I pass through dragon firewalls. I can’t spell. A crow calls. Healer. Breath. I am calm with no monkey mind. Just sitting. I adapt with clear thinking, less agitation, mental and emotional anxiety. I begin accepting my new reality.

On the third day a doctor reviewed my chart. “The next step is Phase II outpatient group therapy.”

Addicts smoked in the gazebo. Fifteen plastic chairs circled stone block ashtrays. Addicts surrounded me in withdrawal stages from heroin, crack, speed, depressives and alcohol.

Gazebo people tried to sort out their lives. They talked about insurance payment scam problems, families, nurses, the lack of doctors, and institutional care histories. I wrote it down among lost lives and despair.

Moist air holding illness confronted recovery. Dead eyes, laughter, faint hopes, repressed angry regrets. Addicts huddled against slashing rain. Smokers coughed collective misery. Addicts bummed quarters for a pay phone to call friends and family.

A film explained how endorphins help us feel good. Alcohol creates a false reality by blocking transmitters known as TIQ.

Mike remembered relapsing after twenty-five years of sobriety. “I just stopped. I was driving down the street one night and plain stopped when I saw a neon liquor sign flashing.” Vodka calling. He started all over again.

On the 5th floor screaming suicide patients smashed heads against walls.

Addicts tried to regain self-esteem. It was about surrendering Control and accepting trust. We turned our lives over to someone who knew what they were doing.


Adventure - Risk - Transformation