Saturday, November 21, 2009

"My Life on the Streets" by Joe Homeless

I've been looking for about 7 years. I had heard that there were a couple of books out there memoir style about people who had experiences like mine, but they are few and far between.

Yesterday I was in the library (not in the memoir section) in the Social Issues section. I found a book entitled "My Life on the Streets" It was published in 1992. This guy who is afraid to use his real name, documents (like I've done for 16 years) everything that happens to him while on the street. He can't spell well or type and apparently has no journals or pens or notebooks. He finds a discarded tape recorder. 

He makes tape after tape from wherever he is spending the night. I think in the end he had 30 or 35 tapes that were 60 minutes long.

I read this book in one day. I've had so many experiences that are similar to Joe. For one thing, after you read this book you realize that most humans really are scum. He and I have mostly bad experiences with humans. Yet he never calls humans scum in his book even though that's how everybody treated him.

I just googled to see where he is today and I'm dissapointed to learn that he died in 1999 at the age of 56.

Have you heard of him? He fell homeless at the same age as I did, 30 years old and like me, never made a full recovery to a normal life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"I wish i could say"

that things are going well. But it would be a lie. The # of things that goes wrong for me is embarrassing and I can't put it on a blog. Which is why I don't write daily.   There is however,  a non profit who are hoping to donate a computer to me.

For as much as there is to like in Carroll County, this really was a "stopgap" move for me. It's hard to envision making a long term commitment. The real goal was to get out of La Pew, get out of danger and that I did, or so it appears.

Now, with my book. I've finished rough draft chapter 1 of my book. Two people have seen it and describe it as compelling and "can't wait to see what happens next." It is the part of my life that is totally right. My calling. I'm driven. I have someone doing a very light editing job for me 2x a month. Has a PHd in english. Professor of English at Hopkins.

I'm disappointed that the people in my complex aren't more friendly. There's only 1 other person besides me who is under 60 so that doesn't help me cause much!

Received 3 new diagnoses in the last 2 months. 2 I believe are correct the 3rd I don't think so. We know our bodies best and we should NEVER blindly accept what "The Great OZ" (the doctors) state without questioning it!

Made 2 very amateurish music videos. Lots of unwanted vocal changes in the last 8 months meant that the songs didn't sound very good. diane rehm has "dysphonia" i hope that's not what's going on with me. I do have some of the same symptoms that she had before her voice went wacko (host of the diane rehm show)

Surprised you are still reading me religiously. Last week had 7 readers a day which is pretty high given that I don't post daily.

Thank you for caring about what happens to me!

Monday, November 16, 2009

"November's Harvest is Bountiful" part 2

whoops, that wasn't the whole list. here's the rest

-4 Dannon blueberry yogurts

-2 Amy's vegetarian pot pies

-1 Amy's black bean burrito

-1 Amy's enchilada black bean and veggie

-1 Amy's veggie loaf/ mashed potatoes and veggies (vegan)

Friday, November 13, 2009

"November's Harvest is Bountiful"

But it wasn't always that way for me. Because I am a starvation survivor. Yesterday however I had 80 dollars in which to spend at the Giant Food Store. Here's how I spent it.

Kashi brand frozen sweet and sour frozen chicken dinner

-Horizon brand organic milk 1/2 qallon

-imported gouda cheese (i can't remember the brand because i threw out the empty wrapper)

-Bolthouse Farms "Green Goodness" fruit smoothie 32 ounces

-2 cans Amy's brand organic vegetarian soups; lentil and split pea

-1 can natural sea brand white albacore tuna

-4 oz. Bumble Bee Albacore "steak" fillet (Lemon and cracked pepper)

Nature's Promise 16 oz. organic crunch peanut butter

-Streits egg and onion matzos 11oz.

-Bumble Bee Wild pink salmon 5 oz.

-Annie's brand cheesy ravioli 15 ounces

-Annie's brand shells and white cheddar macaroni and cheese 6 oz.

-Pepperidge Farms 15 grain whole grain bread

-Scott Naturals 6 pack toilet paper

-cooking mitt

_Giant Brand mayonnaise

-Amy's low vat vegetarian barley soup

-Pepperidge Farms dark chocolate Milano cookies

Authors Note. You see what kind of taste I have, and you know my background as a starvation survivor. I'm reminded of the people I used to hear on the MTA bus. They never said "I want a car" They always said: "I'm buyin' a Roll's Royce" "I'm savin' for a BMW!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"A 6 year wait"

I finally got to the dentist. There is a social service program at c.c. social services that paid for the exam and x-rays.

  It was a nightmare. I expected the x rays to be bad but not that bad. What I mean is they use some newfangled rings that are huge. she couldn't get them in my mouth. she said stuff like:

 "I don't know what to do" "I've done this work for 30 years yet i don't know what to do!"

She was like a bull in a china shop. She'd pull my hair, bang the x ray machine into my mouth by accident, I felt gagged by the plastic protective covers on the rings. When she said she didn't know what to do I said:

"Why don't you use the dental tools that are typically for the children? or  why don't u just ask the doctor how you should proceed?"

 She kept repeating the same procedure with no success.  .  I  told her that my pain is excruciating but she didn't seem concerned.

So the bottom line is that I thought she was horribly unprofessional. I considered switching to somebody else. She was unable to complete the x-rays.

  I said to the dentist: "She is implying that she has never seen a mouth as small as mine" Ridiculous.

When all is said and done I likely won't lose any teeth to gum disease. no cavities, teeth in good condition.

Need to get cleaning but can't unless the welfare office approves the costs.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Road Rage on rural roads"

One of the things that really worried me about moving to Carroll County is having to drive predominantly on rural roads. These rural roads are all over Baltimore as well but now predominantly I have to drive on roads with no shoulder, one lane.

Pretty much every time I get behind my wheel I have to deal with road" terrorists"  The way people behave behind the wheel has largely formed my opinion of humans in general. You show your true colors when you rage, tailgate and blind people with your bright lights in the hopes of intimidating them into going faster. I typically do 35 to 38 in a 40 zone  but other drivers expect me to do a minimum of 65 in a 30 or 40 mile zone. (if I don't obey what they want then they terrorize)

One of the wackos was blinding me on Shawan road intentionally. It caused me to make a wrong turn. I turned onto Western Run road (but didn't know it) and got horribly lost. Western Run is desolate, one lane no shoulders and pitch black. I drove up and down up and down until I was forced to drive down a long country lane to a random house and ask for help. My trac phone has no minutes on it. It's not even 6:30 p.m. but it might as well be midnight for as scared as I am.

The hope is to have them draw me a map back to Falls Road. There is a truck in the driveway. The lights in the large, large house are on, and it appears this house has been converted into an apartment house.

I am  afraid of certain dogs but I have no choice but to employ my social work skills! because  I am approached by a large seemingly friendly dog but I'm still nervous.

I say: "Hi Baby Waybe, how's the goochy goochy goo, good little doggy that's a good boy!" The dog seems to like me. I attempt to walk up the stairs to the front door to knock on the door. The dog physically blocks me with his body which he presses against me. I fear that if I go closer to the house the dog might try to bite me and I'm not sure if he is angry about my trying to approach the house.

By the second step I decide it best to go back to the car. The dog tries to get into the car with me and largely succeeds! I take my cup of water and put it on the ground. This only distracts him for a second then he is 2/3 in my car again. I am forced to push the car door against his body to force him out of my car. I then sit in my car and honk the horn for a few minutes hoping someone will emerge. To no avail.

  I drive up and down Western Run again. I have no idea if I'm going North, South, East or West. I am pretty sure that the road meets Falls somewhere.

Will I have to just camp out in someone's driveway until the sun comes up?

I find another house. I drive down the long lane and approach the house. Lights on, car in driveway, no one answers the door.

I drive on Western Run seeking another house. These houses all sit way back. This one is a mansion. There is a heavy knocker. A man yells "Who is it?!"

"I'm horribly horribly lost please help me!"

He opens the door. I ask him if he'll draw me a map and tell him I have no cell phone. He (like so many men) swears I don't need a map because "it's easy"

He explains that I go left, right, then left on Falls Road. I'm terrified that he might be wrong or that I might not find it.

Eventually I get home and decide it is the perfect night for me to sample my Kahlua since the Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Nog isn't in yet. And I decide that I will never drive after dark without a loaded cell phone again.

Please think twice before you terrorize your neighbor on the roads.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Street Survival" 4/15/96

Remember when I used to italicize and put things in different colors? I don't know where those options have dissapeared to. ;(

Anyhow here is my Author's Note written today. I've been journaling since 1981. I never journal with an audience in mind. I write what is happening in my life and from the heart.  Original journal entries may not include every detail that happened that day but they will give you a very good idea of life in urban poverty. I hope to illustrate in this entry how much time, how much physical and psychological energy and how dangerous it is to have so few choices in life. It's hard work to survive and very time consuming. Is there any time left over to get ahead and better your life? You decide.

4/11/96 Written from "Bawlmer Cafe" near Johns Hopkins Hospital

I figured I better be conscientious and attend the mandatory workshop required of everyone on food stamps. I went out to the bus stop (I live in Hampden) at 7:40 a.m. The #27 bus arrived at 8:10 a.m. The driver isn't sure but she thinks I should transfer to the #5 to get to my destination. Then she goes on, you should probably transfer to the #62. "How often do those buses run?" "I have no idea" she replied.

I decide instead of waiting for the #62, that I better walk the last 12 blocks to the Career Center. (could a disabled person do all that is required to make this round trip?) I'm scared because my acquaintance Charles told me to stay out of East and West Baltimore.

I arrive at the center 45 minutes late. They don't want to let me in. I talk them into it. I'm one of 3 whites in the workshop. Lucy* the teacher walks us through: "How to fill out a job application!" Tragic! The women sitting near me are looking at my application because they don't know how to fill one out.

  One man turns to me and asks:" how do you spell "JANITOR?!"

Lucy speaks rapidly in Ebonics. Workshop attendees are fighting about urban issues such as child rearing practices. I don't agree with any of the harsh philosophies. When this "job application" segment is done, we hadn't even had an opportunity to fill out the entire application.

Next I was led to a computer room to work with a system called Alex. I never got to finish what I was doing with that either then I was led somewhere else. We were just shuffled from place to place and for what?

I leave the Career Center to head for the #22 bus. Theoretically it runs every 20 minutes. I'm freezing cold in unfamiliar territory. I decide to just go ahead and walk the 15 blocks that are required to get to the subway station at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I am in the "Hood of hoods."

I'm weaving back and forth from one side of the street to the other for the entire 15 blocks in the hopes of avoiding getting mugged or killed. At one point 3 men are walking behind me. I walk fast hoping to pass them, when one called out to me:

  "Hey sugar! How you doin?"

I don't know whether I should ignore him or answer him. One began chanting: "SWEET PUSSY, BEAT PUSSY, DO ANYTHING YOU WANT TO PUSSY!"

I am TERRIFIED!  I will NOT go back to this neighborhood again. I'll just have to take any kind of work at all so I won't need the food stamps. I pray that something comes through quickly.........................

"Hacked into my account"

Someone hacked into my facebook account which i rarely use; and sent folks a video in my name. I'm sorry about that, I have changed all passcodes hoping I won't get hacked again.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Good Shabbos"

Friday evening I had one of the most meaningful and enjoyable evenings in a long, long time. I attended my first Shabbos. Shabbos is the day of rest for Jewish people. This family is Orthodox. The parents are 43, and the mother just absolutely glows. It's so obvious that she has chosen the right path for her life.

It seems that service is a big part of this family's life. I tried to remember the last time I had such an impressive multi dish meal and it was in 1996! The children are 10 boy, 7 girl, 5 boy and 3 boy. 

 I told mom I was going to spend some time with the children because "I don't get many opportunities to be around kids" So Abby  the 7 y.o.  said: "Don't you work in the preschool anymore?" "What do you do?!" She's the record youngest human to ask "What do you do?!"

Shoshana* had me help light the candles and showed me how to say the prayer. You wave your hands 3 x and then cover your eyes before you say the prayer. Before the meal started the dad put his hands on each child's head and said a prayer. Each child had a huge smile on their face during the prayer. The children are so so happy!

When I was growing up (I lived with my adoptive parents for 24 years) I don't recall more than 3 shared meals in those years! Sitting down communally sure is a lost art, and those kids are really benefitting from it!

The meal took about 2.5 hours if not more, as they took breaks to say singing prayers. Mom already has an idea of who the right boy is for their daughter! So I asked them about the matchmaking tradition as well as asking many other questions about the yarmulke, the long curls by the ears and many more questions.

("Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match find me a find catch me a catch)

The evening brought back the memory of my parents suddenly deciding to enroll me in Hebrew school without explaining why.  I had never even been in a synagogue. I recall that my Hebrew name was Rivka. I also remember visiting the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and putting a written prayer in the wall in 8/87.