TR-8, otherwise known as, “Yelling at the ashtray,” is meant to teach, “Intention without reservation.” Even as I am reading this, I do not comprehend what I am meant to learn from running this TR (Training Routine).
I am seated in a chair, with another chair at arm’s length. On that chair, is the infamous, ashtray. First, I am to locate the space (the chair), and then I am to locate the object within that space (the ashtray). I cup the ashtray with both hands. All of these commands and acknowledgements are spoken, after my coach, instructs me to do so.
“STAND UP,” I command in the loudest voice I can muster, while lifting the ashtray into the air. “THANK YOU,” I acknowledge in the loudest voice possible.
“SIT DOWN IN THAT CHAIR,” I command using the loudest voice I am able to muster. “THANK YOU,” I command, also using the loudest voice possible, while I lower the ashtray back to the chair cushion.
This completes two cycles of action. Whatever the hell that means. Next, I am focusing on the “intention” of the object, using my normal voice.
“Stand up,” I say, while raising the ashtray. “Thank you,” I acknowledge my action.
“Sit down in that chair,” I command, while placing the ashtray back into the chair. “Thank you,” I acknowledge my action.
Next I will complete the cycle of action, while delivering the wrong commands. Meaning, that while I lift the ashtray, acknowledge, sit it back in the chair and acknowledge that action, I can say whatever four commands I choose, provided they are not the actual ones concerning this TR.
I can think of nothing more fitting than,
“This is,” I command, while lifting the ashtray. “Horse shit,” I say, while acknowledging I have lifted it.
“Fuck off,” I command, while sitting it back in the chair. “Ashtray,” I say, while acknowledging I have completed this cycle of action.
Next I am really suppose to focus on the “intention,” by using nonverbal commands to complete the cycle of action. Translation? I am doing everything outlined above, without saying anything. The coach will flunk you if you do not pause where you should acknowledge your action.
Finally, there is a bullbait aspect to this TR. I am to repeatedly give commands and acknowledgements of this cycle of action, while my coach attempts to throw me off and cause me to flunk by distracting me from completing my TR.
“STAND UP,” I scream over Cody’s attempts to distract me, while lifting the ashtray.
“You look sexy in those shorts Liz,” Cody leans in to announce.
“THANK YOU,” I acknowledge, after I lift the ashtray.
“Steven Lim,” Cody says, attempting to mimic Stormy’s delivery.
“SIT DOWN IN THAT CHAIR,” I command, over his attempts, while placing the ashtray back into the chair.
“Steven Lim’s going to stick his Vienna sausage in your,” Cody begins to say. I cut him off by loudly acknowledging my action,
“THANK YOU,” I acknowledge, after placing the ashtray back into the chair.
This is TR-8. We will drill it for the remainder of the session (2 hours). The bullbaiting is much easier to survive this time. There is something less distracting, when I am screaming commands, versus sitting, engaged in a staring contest and otherwise, silence.
Dinner time is 6:00 p.m. I make a phone call every, single, day of my program during dinner break to my beautiful Natalia. It often results in my missing out on main course dishes, because by the time I get to the line, all students have eaten and some have gone back for seconds.
I am very tempted to tell my dad that this place is the Twilight Zone. However, I know he spent a lot of money on the program ($40,000), and I don’t want him to feel as though I am making excuses, or worry about the conditions I am in. I’ve decided that I won’t complain about the program. I won’t be honest about how there is no massage, heated pool or one on one counseling. I am going to make the most out of my 90 plus, days.
Natty and I engage in our daily routine. Stretching our arms out and hugging and squeezing each other through the phone. Blowing kisses and making proclamations about how we love each other to infinity and beyond, times 1000 and how we love each other how God loves us!
There are three counselors in the office. My counselor, Sadie Dell, Sally, the lead counselor and another lady named Nancy Steam. Nancy Steam, is another Kentucky accent among the group. However, she doesn’t appear as loud and feisty as Mackenzie. Her persona comes off very sweet and girl next door. I wonder what her DOC was?
She has perfectly manicured nails and salon, quality hair. It is shoulder length, and is a chestnut brown, with red and blonde streaks through it. Funny, that is how I have colored my hair, year after year. Looking at her, makes me miss the days that I actually took care of my appearance.
“Liz, I love when you come in here and call your daughter,” Nancy confesses. “It is one of my favorite parts of the day.”
“Thank you. I love her so much,” I profess.
“It shows,” she confirms, with a soft, Kentucky accent.
“Hey. I heard that there is an iPod dude here. Tony Crone? Word around the center is that he can hook you up with all the hits (music). Do you know where he is at?” I ask.
I don’t come out and ask, “Hey, can your boyfriend get me some music?” We aren’t supposed to speak about staff relations and I don’t want to get her in trouble, but everyone knows they are an item.
I haven’t met him yet, but apparently he is awesome, obsessed with Michigan sports and Nancy informs me, he shares an affinity for Tech N9ne. This delights me.
“I do know him,” she smiles. “He is in Glendale right now and won’t be back for another week, but there is some iTunes on the computer,” she elaborates. “If you sign up for computer time, I could help you.”
“Well, that’s the thing. I don’t have an iPod. I was hoping maybe, since I am going to the doctor tomorrow, that they could bring my money and I could stop and get one?”
“Oh,” she acknowledges me. “That requires filling out a CSW form,” she elaborates.
The CSW form is filled out and then goes back to the Ethics department for approval or rejection. She cannot guarantee that I will be approved. Especially, because it is short notice. However, she locates the form and assists me with filling it out.
“Thank you so much Nancy,” I say, before heading up to the lodge for dinner.
“2 Chaaaaaaaaaainz,” Jude calls out. “Don’t forget you are doing dinner dishes for a pack of smokes.”
“I won’t,” I reply.
Another aspect of doing dinner dishes, is that sometimes it results in being late to class. I am, totally, okay with this. I am over TR’s. All of them. I am looking forward to getting off the mountain tomorrow. After my smoke, I head back to do dishes.
There is a cute Asian boy that appears to run the kitchen. He is in control of the music, while the kitchen crew (students designated with this chore) cleans. I call him Island Boy, because he has a Hawaiian appearance, but his actual name is Trent. He is only 21 years old, but we flirt with each other a little. He went to the University of Washington and rocks Huskies gear often.
He is listening to Crime Mob, Knuck if you Buck. I come in and do my little gangster dance and start rapping along. He laughs and demands a high-five. I can feel him watching me, as I fly through the dishes.
“Whoa, slow down,” he instructs. “Are you in a hurry to get back to class?”
“My bad,” I apologize. “I am a fast worker. Always have been.”
I am rather speedy, and have managed to finish the dishes, just in time for roll call.
Stormy and Jacob scan the room. This time, John Tiger (EO) is in the course room for roll.
“Okay, there is a reason I am here tonight,” Tiger explains. “You are all adults. There is no need for you to act like fucking, immature children. Knock that shit off,” he commands.
He goes on, “If you respond with anything other than a, “here,” response, you will be written a CHIT. Got it?”
Now, you would think this would deter the group from acting out, however, Jude and Rick are in a league of their own.
“Donny Dimaggio,” Stormy calls out.
“Here,” he replies. An unusual response for him.
“Jude London,” Stormy calls out.
“My nigga Loofah,” Jude replies.
The entire classroom erupts into laughter.
“Knock it off!” John Tiger exclaims, as he begins writing Jude’s CHIT.
If you receive three or more chits, you are required to do a few hours of MEST on Sunday. Meaning, Jude could afford one without any real ramifications.
“Are we good? We good?” Stormy asks, while curling the corner of his mustache.
“Rick Mason,” Stormy calls out.
“My nigga soap suds,” Rick responds.
Again, the classroom is laughing.
“Knock it the fuck off. Calm down. You are all adults. Do you all want CHITs?” John Tiger asks.
The classroom collects itself, as Tiger writes Rick a CHIT.
I can honestly say that I have never heard the word, “nigga,” being thrown around as much, as I have here in rehab. That is really saying something, considering I spent several years of my life surrounded by black people who used that term frequently.
In my circle, if you were not black, you did not use that term. However, that doesn’t appear to be the consensus here.
We only have one black student. His name is Devante. He is like, 18 years old and wears pajamas to class. His pajamas have cartoon and comic book characters on them.
He is awesome, but is teased often for being the whitest kid at the center. Meaning, he doesn’t resemble any of the stereotypes associated with being black. I realize as I am participating in this observation, I have become prejudiced.
My daughter’s dad is black. He is the epitome of the stereotype. He has abandoned all responsibility of fatherhood. He uses dope, although he was a dealer before he got strung out. Straight off the block of Camden. Not a nice guy. He threatened to kill me several times. I fear he has left a sour taste in my mouth, concerning black men. I don’t like that I can sense this racism, developing in me. But for now, it’s there. I’m ashamed of this; however, I rationalize that my personal experiences have created this.
It does not, however, cause me to view Devante differently. I can’t associate a black man wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pajama set, as being a dope peddling, gangster. I will need to get past this prejudice. If not for my sake, for my daughters. After all, she is half black.
It is now time to drill TR-9. The commands are the same as TR-6 1/2, however, there is the physical force found in TR-7 for handling a student unwilling to comply with the command. The point, again, is to be able to demonstrate using, “Intention without reservation.”
“Look at that wall,” Donny D commands.
“Thank you,” he acknowledges, as I look at it.
“Walk over to that wall,” he commands while pointing at it.
“I don’t want to,” I originate.
Donny D forces me to walk over to the wall.
“Thank you,” he acknowledges.
“Touch that wall,” he commands.
“Thank you,” he acknowledges, as I touch it.
“Turn around,” he commands.
“Thank you,” he acknowledges that I have turned around.
We drill TR-6- TR-9 for 2 hours. This is exhausting and I do not see the point in any of it.
All of these TR’s, absolutely are about control. Control over what? Another human being? Self control? I begin to speculate about Narconon’s subject of control. It would make sense, that you would want to teach drug addicts about self control. However, I am confused as to how yelling at an ashtray accommodates this.
Finally, 9:00 p.m. is upon us, and class is over! Lights out is in a couple hours. I make my way to the lodge.
“Yo Boo Bear,” Donny Bolts calls out. “Come play spades. Sit on Papa Bear’s lap,” he elaborates.
Another night with the guys, exchanging inappropriate sexual banter, chain smoking, vaping, listening to rap music and talking smack. This is my life for at least three months. That thought depresses me and I am feeling homesick.
“Why are you going to the doctor tomorrow?” Brian asks.
“I don’t know,” I admit. “They have to check my liver enzymes and blood again.”
“Do you have Hepatitis C?” Hunter asks.
“What? No! I never shared needles,” I say, frightened by the question.
“Okay. Sorry. I was only asking because some people’s sauna has been delayed because of that,” he admits.
Oh my God. What if I do? Or worse, what if I have AIDS? My heart begins to race. My mind speculates all of the worst case scenarios. I don’t know anything about Hepatitis C, but I do know it is common with IV drug users.
“I asked the doctor to give me an AIDS test,” I confess. “I know Washington state law, prohibits those results being given over the phone. Maybe I have to go back there just to get my results?”
“I’m sure you’re fine girl. Don’t stress it,” Brian says. He touches my leg under the table with a reassuring pat.
“Three feet,” Curtis Maxwell (EO) instructs.
Did he see Brian tap my thigh? I move over a few inches on the bench.
“Yeah, I’m sure you don’t have AIDS Liz, it’s probably just HIV, Gonorrhea or Syphilis,” Bolts says, through a chuckle.
“Man, shut the fuck up!” Brian exclaims. “That shit is not funny bro.”
“You will be fine Liz. Were you drinking a lot? Alcohol can fuck up your liver tests,” he suggests.
“No. Fuck no. I was banging dope. I didn’t drink,” I admit. “But, I didn’t share needles.”
“Well, I am sure that it’s a precaution. You aren’t the first person to have to have those things rechecked,” he says in a reassuring tone.
“Yeah, Stormy did almost his entire program before he was finally approved for sauna,” Hunter chimes in.
“Really? But, wasn’t his DOC, alcohol?” I ask. “I mean, that would make sense for an alcoholic to have abnormal liver enzymes.”
Curtis isn’t watching us, as Brian squeezes my thigh under the table. It’s not a sexual advance. It is meant to comfort my fear. I love him. He has been nothing but reassuring since I got here. Not to mention, he has defended me repeatedly against this pack of wolves.
“Liz,” he whispers. “You will be fine. You are here, doing what is best for you and your daughter. Don’t stress it girl. I’m here for you.”
After we are corralled into our rooms for lights out. My mind is overcome with fear. I pop the Benadryl that Bolts passed me under the table and pray that it knocks me out so that I can sleep. I don’t want to sit up all night, obsessing over everything that could go wrong.
Despite the fact that the Benadryl causes me to become drowsy, my mind fights with my ability to sleep. I pray to God,
Please don’t let me have any diseases. Don’t let me come this far, only to be handed a death sentence.
My eyes well up. Wouldn’t that be an ironic twist of fate? Junkie cleans up act, only to learn she is dying. I swear to God, if I am sick, I am hitch hiking down this mountain and scoring dope in Temecula (nearest city in California from my location). If I’m dying anyways, I am going out of this world, high as fuck…