What better title? "Extreme: On Living in the Intensity of the Moment" ($18 in paperback from Drugs Bite, www.drugsbite.com) summarizes the mind-boggling downs and ups of Stephen Arrington's life. The Paradise resident tells a first-person story of becoming addicted to marijuana (and, later, harder drugs) as a bomb disposal frogman stationed in Hawaii in the late 1970s. He was busted and kicked out of the Navy. Today he's a drug educator.
The gripping narrative is a sad history of bad choices. Arrington's picture hits the front page of the Los Angeles Times on October 21, 1982 as one of the accused drivers in a cocaine-smuggling operation masterminded by auto magnate John Z. DeLorean. It meant prison for Arrington and there, he writes, he found the freedom from self-deception he could not otherwise escape.
The author is scheduled to be interviewed by Nancy Wiegman on Nancy's Bookshelf tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. on KCHO (Northstate Public Radio, 91.7 FM).
In prison he realizes that "all my choices were pre-determined by my quest for self-fulfillment on my terms. My relationship with God was also for my convenience." It's two in the morning. "There is no sudden decision, I just find myself climbing down from the bunk in my shorts and getting down on my knees on the cold concrete floor. The last thing I see before closing my eyes are the shadows of the jail bars silhouetted on the lower corner of the cell's wall. ... I am not sure that I am going to pray until it happens."
By 1985 he was out, landing a job teaching at the College of Oceaneering in Los Angeles. There he saves a student's life after a near-drowning. Receiving a Red Cross Certificate of Merit, "I look down at the signature upon it in wonder." It is personally signed by President Reagan. "I remember hearing President Reagan announcing his war on drugs while I was driving that drug-laden car in Florida."
Still thirsting for adventure, he's offered the job as Chief Diver for the Cousteau Society. In 1988, preparing for a filming expedition to Maui, he meets Cindy, she of the "playful hazel eyes," who lives in Paradise and who became his wife.
An improbable life indeed.