Congratulations to Skidtown.com for their new blog site. The pictures look great and the Skid Row Basketball logo definitely makes a strong impact.
Yes, it does feel good to have pictures on my blog again.
I am finished with the practice exams of the "continuing education" course for my real estate brokers license. I now have the actual final examination. I will start that today. I am thrilled.
The day I was arrested in August of 2006, I was getting ready to register for the continuing education course. My license expired the previous May. After quitting drugs I wanted to hurry up and get back into the real estate business in some form or fashion. I had whipped myself in to shape by training at USC.
Every other time my license expired, I would procrastinate the renewal of it.
In 2006, I was ready to get right on it. However the bottome fell out. I remember the public defender at the time telling me to forget about my real estate career. She was only concerned about clearing the docket and not my case. "Plead guilty or do 8 years" she said. She is what is described as a "Public Pretender" on Skid Row.
There are some great public servants that work for the public defenders office. She was not one of them. Later I met some one who really saved me from even more disaster. Natasha Brown sat in front of me and said "I am taking your case seriously." If it were not for her, I would not be here today. I know it. I would be behind prison bars some place. I have no doubt about it.
I worried about my license the whole time in jail. Would I get out in time. Would I be in prison? Will the renew it? When I got out of jail, within 3 days, I went to the Ronald Reagan building. I looked a mess but I had to find out what was going to happen to my license when I renew it. I remember the deputy commissioner telling me that I should have no problem at all. It really did not do any good in relieving me of anxiety because I learned that it does not matter what any one says. It depends on what they do and who is doing it on that day when it comes to interpreting rules. Every one has their own opinion on the law or how it will be enforced. One decision maker will rule one way. Another will rule another way.
It may also matter what mood a person is in when they handle your matter. On most days maybe things would have been ruled in your favor but if the person in charge is in a bad mood then he could rule differently. You do not know until you know.
I was telling Charlotte how I felt about the uncertainty of it all. It was like being in jail for months for the misdeamenor and not knowing if I was going to go to prison or be released. I was released because of the diligent and professional efforts of Natasha Brown. A few months later, in my first progress report, she said I was a success story. That was in July of last year. Since then things have changed alot. I remember when we stood up together to face the judge on January 18,2007. She had already cut the deal. I knew I was leaving. She said she believed in me.
Other public defenders told me to plead that I needed mental treatments--that it would help me. Jail house inmate lawyers kept saying the same thing. "If you want to get out quickly, Walter, say that you are mentally ill. Play crazy. Get 'CRAZY PAY'. There was no way I was going to do that. Others said they would do anything to get 'crazy pay'. I was already labeled a felon from being scared to death by the first public defender. One day I will write about that in detail. In fact there were three of them They need to be disbarred.
After the judge sentenced me to a program, I waited for another 3 weeks for them to get me. They had forgotten me. No one knew where I was. They thought I was out. I called up Natasha Brown and she responded. It still took a chaplain to get me out. It was in the nick of time. They started rioting the morning I left.
After talking to the Deputy Commissioner, I grabbed some license renewal forms and walked out of the office. I walked out of the building and rushed back to the Transition House. The program director let me out to find out about my license. For some reason he never put restrictions on me. He gave me latitude from the start. The very first thing I told him was that I was going to be his success story. Rory Cornwell always remembered that. I never let him down. I have told every one that since being on skid row. I will not let you down. I have not. To have let any one down would mean I have let myself down alot.
I rushed back to the Transition House that day with those papers in my hand. I kept them in my locker. I looked at them from time to time and they seemed so far away from me. I never thought I would have the money to take the continuing education course. I never thought I would have the money to pay the fee for the license.
You have heard all of this from me, maybe time and time again. It is hard for me to believe the state of mind I was in and the hopelessness I felt. I felt I was doomed forever.
Well, as you know, I collected many cans and saved some other money and paid for the classes and I struggled to keep focused to finish the material. I did. I have the exam.
I do not spend as much time worrying about whether or not the deputy commissioner was correct. I keep thinking about Gilbert, the man who collected 800 dollars in cans and paid the fee at the very last moment to get his green card back. After that he had to wait for 6 months without knowing if he were going to be deported or stay here. "Do what you have to do first, walter", he said.
I have. Now I am at this point. I will be doing this exam tonight. Again, as I always do, I want to thank everyone for their support. I said I had to see it through. I have. I did what I had to do. Not finished yet but I expect that by Thursday I will be sending off for my license.
At night now, when I have a few moments of doubt, when I get weary for a minute or two, I actually talk to myself. Or pray. or both. I tell myself to remember how I felt last year and how I do not feel that way now. I tell myself to remember how far I have come. I tell myself that if I came this far, then it will get better. I find a way to remember all of the words that people say to me and I feel comforted.
To take a phrase from Og, the commissioner of the Skid Row Basketball league, "it is more than just a license." It is a statement about a lot of things.
I remember the first time Kevin Royce told me to keep focused on my goals. I remembered all of the time I had to fight to believe I could even get close to them. "Stay focused on your goals". I saw the quote recently. I immediately changed my focus. It is amazing how, with much work and practice, something can happen quickly where, in the past, it would take so much time and labor.
got to go to work.