Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Put one foot in front of the Other

I am sitting here at Chrysalis. It is 9:00 AM. Everything is different. Chrysalis is the same but for some reason I feel much different.

I am trying to figure out where I am. A great deal has changed within the last few weeks and my perspective is foggy. I talked with someone yesterday and he feels that it will take some time for me to understand where I am.

When I walked out of the Aon building, it was the end of a three week run of interviews, working on sets and court appearances. In each of those catagories there has been substantive change. With those changes new questions emerge.

In court the judge is trying to unite me with my family. I waited a long time for that kind of support and now it is beginning to spread. The only problem that comes with that support is that I must realize that i still must be patience and let the process run its course despite whatever concerns and anxieties I have. What I feared could take at least a year could take a couple of months. I need to be grateful for that.

I was able to make a few dollars working on a set. Money in the pocket always makes one feel more secure. I received a letter that my benefits were ending last week. They are ending a month before I expected. Thank God that I was able to work and stash away a little cash.

In the middle of that working stint, I received a call from a woman about a position that was available within Skid Row. They are going through the process now. I passed the drug test and now they are going through the background check. I am grateful to have at least one position. The Human Resources Woman who talked with me has known me for some time. She offered me a position months ago but had to rescind it. This time she said to me,"Walter, you are on your way now. No one can stop you now.". I was so busy doing things that I did not have the time to absorb what she was saying. I was working all day and trying to put together a brochure in the little spare time I had.

I was not confident about the brochure. I talked with marketing friends of mine. Each interpreted the requirements differently. One said used the exact language and just organized it. Just draw a box where there should be a picture. Another said do the whole layout. Everyone had a different perspective of the task at hand. We were all wrong. However, the most important thing was that I did not plan well enough to have enough time to call and email for clarification. If that is the case, that means I am not ready for whatever the nature of the position brings. I am not far enough on the comeback trail to deliver effectively and contributive substantively, immediately.

During the assignment, I felt uneasy about certain things. It was the first time using a software program and it had limitations. Secondly, I had read some of the requirements in some of the marketing manager advertisements, and it appeared to me that the duties of the position had changed in focus since I was in Corporate America.

In one company, IBM, the title Marketing Manager is a pseudonym for Sales Manager.
In another company or industry, it means strategist and implementer. It changes from company to company. Moreover, with technology changes, "in house" availability
of increased capabilities increase as well. A shift in the focus of duties evolves over time.

This is one of things that I learned from the experience the last few days. I had noticed that "collateral materials" has been a focus in marketing manager responibilities where in the past they have not been. It may be a function of the industry or depend upon a company and the way it is structured. It is important to know that these differentiations exist.

I must make sure I know what the focus is on a position. What I perceive a position to be may not be what it is. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to interface with RD and have contribution in my growth process.

I am not a graphic designer. I am a strategic planner, a researcher, a deal maker. Or was I those things. The one thing I have learned in this journey that started years ago and has been coming increasingly clear is that one must be open to suggestion about how to do something and, more importantly, about oneself. I closed myself off from the world years ago in many ways. I cut off the receptors to stimulus, the very seeds that make things grow.

I learned I loved to write. Who knows what else I will find out that I like to do.

That is why I am excited to see what RD has to say to me in so far as how I could contribute to their organization. She said the president liked my blog. He probably senses a man that is hungry to be pushed. I want to burst open the gates and see what is inside. I feel that something is there and they can bring it out.

Also I have a position as a desk clerk. It is with the same organization that offered me the assitant property management position but had to rescind it. If you recall, I wrote about that. It was something that they had to do for business, insurance reasons. I understood that then.

The funny thing about this position is that it removes all of the concern about being able to survive. I can now look up and see new things. I can feel new things. I can absorb new things. I can plan. I can look towards the future.
"Walter, nobody can touch you now. Nobody can stop you now. You are on your way."

Those words echo inside of me each moment and with each reverberation I understand more of its many kaleidoscopic meanings. With more understanding, comes more belief in what it says. Belief and confidence make the difference in everything. It is the one thing that I fought hard to maintain since I have been on Skid Row.

I walked around Skid Row the last day or so. I have been here for a year. And yes, it does look like a big college campus. You see people go out of one building and go into another around the corner. You see people progress. You see people get sidetracked. All of these things are similar and comparable to what occurs on a college campus.

I have been here long enough to notice changes. I have changed and my circumstances have changed so a change in my perspective is to be expected. I was shell shocked when I came here. Now I have a job and the prospects of perhaps the opportunity of another or the chance to contribute in another organization. The world is opening up to me again. I closed it with a series of decisions and behaviors and now I am reversing the process.

I see men and women on Skid Row like I saw men on women on Penn's campus. Each year things change. Those who were Freshman are now Sophomores. Those who are in school are now out of school. Some graduate. Others leave for various reasons. Some drop out.

The same thing occurs in Skid Row. Some people graduate. Some drop out.

I have known a man for about a year. He was in the Transition House with me last year. He had come from another program. He relapsed and went to another program. he relapsed again and had to go somewhere else. He was on the relapse circuit on Skid Row.

I talked to him on the movie set when we worked. I was aware that each time he had money in his hand, he relapsed and was discharged from where he was. I told him that it was simple. You smoke cocaine or you do not. The hardest part was to stop physically. However he could not mentally retire from his career as a "smoker".

We worked on that set longer than I did. He did not have to pay rent where he lived. After three weeks of interviews, working and court appearances. My life changed for the better. I am still trying to figure out what it means. It does mean that I have options.

I had heard that some people were kicked out of the Transition House from not making curfews. It is a normal thing that happens at the beginning of each month as people receive their checks and reusme drug use.

I was walking into the Transition House to use the Computer Lab and the man, about whom I have been writing, walked out of the Transition House with his clothes in a plastic bag. He was discharged. he had to find another place to take him. He may have run out of options.

You have two men who were registered students at the University of Skid Row. One man is on a merry go round or treadmill. What he does not realize is that each time he goes around on thata merry go round, he loses something inside of him that it will be harder and harder to retrieve.

Then you have me. All of those little checks are in the bank. I have my little room secured. I have a job. I have a potential job or volunteer position. I am within arms reach of being reunited with family. The hard work and perserverence is beginning to pay off.

That is why I need to take time to figure out where I am. I can not believe I am here.

A man, Kevin, is being transferred out of here to go to Van Nuys. I can not thank him or his family enough for what they have done for me. They encouraged me to fight each day. And now I can look back and see that it was a fight each day and a fight in every aspect of life each day.

Frankly, it was the first time in a long time that I had to fight like this. I know I had to fight like this when the doctors told my parents not to expect me to live. I know I had to fight to not drown when I was a kid.

I fooled the doctors as a one year old. I lived. I did not drown. I became a champion swimmer.

I learned how to fight again before I arrived here. I learned how to fight some more once I got here. Bill was right. I am a fighter. But the fighting never ends.
It takes on different forms. That is what is happening now.

I fought hard to get to this point. Now I have to fight to relearn about Corporate America. I am very excited. I am at the starting line. I am listening to everyone. I listened to the human resources women who offered me the desk clerk positioned. l I listened to Ms R.D. when she said what she had to say. They can both push me. I want to be pushed.

On Skid Row you have people that push and want to be pushed and you have those that
push themselves further out of the stadium where the game of life is played. The can stand side by side, the two in contrast and each day, though, side by side, the distance between them increases.

So many different perspectives in Skid Row. I never, in a million years, thought I would experience the perspective as I am now, let alone feel it.

It is a time where I can relax and take a deep breath and exhale. It is a time where I must also take a deep breath and get ready to plunge into the water again.

"Walter, put one foot in front of the other." " Walter, nobody can stop you now. You are on your way.". Words of wisdom from two people who I respect and admire.

I can start to look at the future. I have hope again. Winners are created in times of peril. I must believe that. If I have come this far, there is no limit as to how far I can go. I believe that now. I did not believe that when I arrived here. I believed life was over.

Anything can happen. Just take my time and put one foot in front of the other.
I hope this much. I hope that I am pushed. I hope I am challenged. There is a lot in me to give. I am hungry to do just that.

I want to know what it feels like to have my own computer again. I want to know what it feels like to turn it on and use the internet to study, where I do not have to be limited to time constraints. I want to know what it feels like to have an employer email me and say walter, I know you are not at work but I have this project that I need to get done and I wonder if you would help me do it. I want to know what it feels like to develop relationships. These are things I took for granted in the past but now I see how much work it took for me to be in those positions in the past.

This blog has brought about many things. People have found me. People have encouraged me to fight. People have encouraged me to continue writing. City Council officials enjoy my writing. A president of an organization enjoys my writing. It has given me visibility. I must push myself now to elevate to the next level.

Ms. R.D. told me that she sees what I mean when I said my blog was unedited. I did not even want to know what she meant. More than likely it meant eveything I knew it would mean. What did that comment do for me. It challenged me. I need to take the time to edit my blogs and make them more cohesive and succinct. I need to exericse greater discipline in my writing skills and expand on my presentation capabilities.

(As I was typing this, I received a phone call. My friend, Todd, who lives across the street from my mom, and who is an attorney in the arts district told me he is going to let me have his old laptop. So now I can practice things that are very important to me. I can begin my study program on the languages of the internet like html and xml). It is old and I cant save or use the ports but it will help me until I can learn how to use movie maker and edit.)

So yes, MR. RD presented me with a way to challenge myself. Hopefully, I will be in a position that my growth will benefit her and her organization. I put a foot in front of the other the other day and now I have a computer with which to study.

"Walter, no one can stop you now. You are on your way."

As I said, it is taking me a day or two to get used to these new perspectives and they are changing with every day.

I do know that I will be working. I thought I would never get a full time position. I thought I would never be in a position where I could smile everyday.
People have been telling me I have been smiling alot. Funny isnt it.

Adventures on Skid Row. Downtown is full of contrasts. You are in a city where the wealth of the city erects skyscrapers. The poverty of the city has people living in the streets. We have cowgirls in Hollywood. Everything is here. Anything is possible. I am beginning to believe that again.

"Walter, put one foot in front of the other." I am taking my time in doing that because there is so much that has changed. So much is about to change. The possibilities seem to be limitless.

5 comments:

Shelly said...

Congratulations on getting the brochure job, and don't worry about the differing opinions about the task at hand - I'm sure the people that hired you are interested in YOUR interpretation of the job.

Anyway, keep up the writing. It's very interesting.

And: please post a story about how you ended up on skid row. I think I've got it pieced together, but I'm not sure.

skidrowscribe said...

Shelley,
I did not get the "brochure" job. I did not make that clear. I was offered a job by another organization. However, the "brochure" organization told me to call them on Friday to see what they can come up with to fit me into the organization. We shall see. I hope they do find a place for me. I would give it my all.

Dallas Cowboys said...

Walter, good job. Stay focused.

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