COPS and Fake Rain?

Okay I get the cops thing. I am carrying 210 pounds of stuff and weaving. All toll that is like 500 pound of massive movement.

So the cops sweep in.

Hey..it’s a no brainer…I would swoop. 6’7″ monster splashing around with 500 pounds? No brainer.

Here is the good thing…I am articulate and a gentleman.

And I obey.

So the officer sees me struggling with my baggage and stops me.

He orders me to sit on my bag. I comply.

He asks questions and I am damned articulate. He notes this. He actuslly says to me “You are very articulate and a gentlrman”

True.

So they load my stuff into a patrol car and drop me at an illegal sleepng place knowing full well I am gonna bed down there.

But then I am articulate and a gentleman.

A guy yells at me at 11 p.m. “the spinkers are gonna soak you”

I figure they may come on at like 5 a.m and I will be up long before that.

I am mistaken.

They come on at 4:10 and soak me and my hoodie and sleeping bag.

I mean drenched.

So I have showered today.

I make due ad head to Starbucks for a hot cup o’ joe at 5.

Big Mike is next to me doctoring his coffee. He says “Hey Mac how are ya?” I tell him the truth.

“You homeless?” he asks through his white broad beard.

“Yeah…and drinking. They kinda go together”

He laughs and lends his giant paw and we smile.

He has been sober for 8 years. I like Big Mike a lot.

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Hiding in Plain Sight

It is no secret that the police in Marin are on high alert concerning the Homeless.

As soon as the sun fades they are out in force to move you along to nowhere. It’s very intimidating.

Well I am a newbie…so I decided  hide in plain sight. One block from Starbucks right in the middle of town.

Dropped my 200 pound pack and laid out my bag on the grass of this office complex.

That’s the beauty of it. No one would ever look there…it’s too obvious.

Slept like a baby.

I know what yer thinking…”can he get away with it for a month?”

Naw….no way.

But it was good and fine last night. Coo-coo….snore.

From the Sublime to the Utterly RIDIC

A few days ago I was trying to sleep on a dead airbed (not made for 330 pound  mutants it last ten days before exhaling its last) and having to get up and wee at 4 am on the bushes in Petaluma.

The last two nights I have had my own room on the top (27th floor) of a building on Lake Merritt whose penthouse can only be accessed by a key.

My parents are house-sitting for friends who are away at another of their houses. My youngest sister is in town from Nairobi and we are all going to meet her new beau at a brunch at 12:30, which I am sure will be fab.

The entire Bay Area is my skyline this a.m. and it has been a very good two days break (mind, spirit, heart and family) to be here and much needed relief for my benefactors in Petaluma, who, like most people, find my a lopsided blessing and curse

Camille, Aubree and Fred.

Time with my father and step-mother has been very easy, and the night before last Adam came over with 3/4rs of his bike and Camille brought Aubree. Both Camille and I had seen Shutter Island a few times, so at one point we just fell asleep holding hands.

I have the best children in the world.

Kookachay with his bike.

So I sublimely slept in the penthouse after a great showing of The Taking of Pelham 123, and a wonderful salmon dinner prepared by Dee (who is the best cook I know).

.

And now back to the Utterly RIDIC. Homeless and wanting a place to rebuild.

All Along The Watchtower

Being homeless is all about being street-level. So you meet people you would otherwise ignore. Sorry…it’s that simple.

So I met Philippe from Fiji outside the Grocery Outlet where I knew I could get wifi and also there are milk crates you can sit on…and unofficial office. But Philippe was sitting on two of my milk crates. I had to take the one left over.

Casual talk while his wife sat across the way uninterested. As we made friends she decided to come over. He gave her a milk crate. She asked “Do you believe in God?”

“Yes, I believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. More important they know me.”

Philippe seemed oddly pleased. She was not.

“I want to give you this pamphlet.”

“So you are both Jehovah’s Witnesses,” I say. (you can tell immediately given the flowerily bad artwork).

So I just cut to the chase “Jesus is God, so says John and that’s a reading from the original Greek and not from your 1951 New World Translation which has a  mistranslation that omits what is clearly in the Greek text.”

“You can choose to disbelieve that Jesus is God (a great many people do)  as stated in the text, but don’t try and pretend that isn’t what is said. I read ancient Greek.”

He seemed amused…she was not.

“Will you read this pamphlet?”

“I will on one condition. If you agree to go home and, together, read St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians and discuss it amongst yourselves”

Then I ask them to pray with me. She refuses but he takes my hand. I am careful to direct my prayer to the Father…Jehovah…Yahweh….

When they leave, I read the entire pamphlet (I promised I would). It is nonsense and wrenches biblical passages out of context and ruins them. Yet I am reminded that we are not “saved” by what we know, but rather by Who we know, and more importantly, Who knows us.

Waiting for Cotdot

I was told when meeting with COT that I could check in for a six moth program (which is terrifying for someone like me) if I came in   sober and clean. I was ready at 8 a.m. and called in.

“We have no beds today.”

I conferred with Miles and Alexis who really wanna see me get placed there….they said best to dump me on the doorstep tomorrow at 8 a.m. and see what happens.

I’m game.

Meanwhile I had to do my paperwork (hours) to get my $90 a week) from the state for …I dunno…underwear, a razor,  I applied for all available jobs I was qualified for (25 a week). The most surprising was “Bouncer”.

I would make a  good bouncer actually. I have the size, authority and am not easily incited. I also want the best for people. There is also a sort of fearlessness in the face of real threat I have had since 1986. I am not afraid to die. Actually rather be shot trying to help someone than die in most other ways.

So no…guns do not scare me. Nor does taking a few hits…but then no one ever wants to hit me when they up lose.

They do not know (and I will not be telling) that I have studied Jesus and Gandhi and MLK. I won’t hit back. Don’t need to.

So Friday I apply for a bouncers job alongside as UI designers, technical writer’s and program director’s jobs.

Perfect.

In the meantime…It would be nice to get into COTS. I assures my sobriety and turn me into a better man in 6 months.

Now the Merton quote has stayed with me for 25 years. How a man or woman can be stripped down to a place of utter spiritual nakedness. I am not there yet, but I can attest I am far closer right now than I have ever been.

Every word Merton says is true. I will confirm that. It resonated in me at 28 and I now have to live it at 53. Alone…naked…but not alone.

I do now. Do you?

Two quick errors can be the DIFF

Caught near Crissy. Things started to unravel quickly. I sat down to take in the Bay and when I turned, someone have ripped off my big orange back filled with replaceable, but not easily so on my budget, items like a towel, sandals, gym trunks for after my swim, some food.

Gone. Who steals from the homeless?

This reminded me (this is ironic later on) of when I parked my Jeep along Golden Gate Park and homeless folk broke in a took my bags…one was a gym bag…the other was a “Mac Bag O’ Fun” which means it had an antique Bingo set (made out of steel and wooden balls). They broke a back side window to get in and I had to painstakingly replace it in the parking lot of the Youth Hostel I stayed in last night…about 7 years ago.

Two Mistakes Can Cost Your Life

Two errors. One was my phone going dead. Well, you cannot predict that. The second was be misdirected to the wrong bus stop.

So it is July the 4th and no one is leaving the City. Believe me I asked. Finally a bus driver told me I was at the wrong stop…but it was now too late to catch a bus over the bridge.

No phone…trapped in SF and it’s starting to get dark.

WARMTH

I have often said that one of the most underrated inventions of humanity is a hot clean shower. Think of it….for most of history this has not been available yet you can take one or two every day if you like.

I’m born under a water sign (Cancer) and I am drawn to it. True…I also tend toove sidewise…but that is another story for another day.

On this day all I wanted was to throw myself into the Bay and get really salty. That didn’t happen given the above.

But I remembered well the scuba training my son Thomas and I received years before when it comes to warmth. About 70 percent of the body’s heat escapes through the top of your head.

So when it becomes 1 a.m. in Golden Gate Park and you are dressed in swim trunks and a hoodie the most important think for survival is the hoodie covering your head.

The rest (at between 4-5 am) you must simply endure. It’s not pretty or for the squeamish.

Of course other bad things had happened in between 1 and 5 a.m

The worst was walking down a darkened path, tripping over a cypress burl and falling headlong with glasses thrown off into some distant bush never to be recovered.

So now you are blind (or at least blurry being nearsighted) in the dark in the park.

What can you do but move ahead?

Of course your chances of tripping again have now increased exponentially. And this happens about 30 minutes later.

But this time you have the good fortune to land in a 7 foot long by 5 foot wide small ravine.

Unharmed and surrounded by tall bushes. Wisely, you decide NOT to get up. No….here you will stay until the songbirds begin their warblings and the sky begins to turn slightly grey.

The COLD

But it is effing COLD as darkness gives way to dawn. I knew enough to keep my upper body warm and the hoodie saved me. But I had only a thin towel for my naked legs.

I have only been colder once. Art age 15 I hitchhiked to Yosemite and hiked way too high up with an inferior bag. Worse, I did not have the “natural” insulation I have now.

You do not wanna ever be that cold.

STARBUCKS

In New York the homeless ride the subways all night. In California you just wait for a Starbucks to open.

Being the High Tech Homeless Guy means that even without a phone I am drinking coffee and networking with folks all over the US by 5:45 a.m.

An ex-girlfriend lives a few blocks away. But let’s be clear: It is UTTERLY inappropriate for me to ring her doorbell at any time.

Still, I could have died (That morning’s SF Chronicle told of a homeless man who was stabbed 37 times not seven blocks from where I slept). So after coffee and networking I thought “um…hat in hand….and only three rings then walk away…be a gentleman.”

Gracious woman on ring  three as I prepared to walk away.

And she told me her story which I will never discuss with anyone xcept to say I learned a lot sitting and listening (for a change).

July 9th: still reeling

No matter how you try or what you use as a defense, there are some experiences that just change you forever.

I have had a few of these. A few have been real grace and changed me forever that way…others have scarred me so deeply that I wonder how to press on at all.

Humor helps. And, as I have said a certain irrational trust in God even when you have placed yourself utterly in harms way all on your own given your freedom (peole blame God all day long for their own damned mess).

Well I am not yet emotionally repared to detail the events from 6 p.m. last Sunday through yesterday, or even today. On the good side it led in some ways to compassion and greter understanding for family members. I thought it might take a few years to make up with them after the “perfect storm” a few weeks ago.

My countenance finally FELL.

I understand why people give up. I spoke this a.m. to a man, very unhealthy. His meds were/are not working right at all. He is distraght..legitimately so…no drama. He paces. He needs a friend.

I told him I was leaving for a few days but would be back and take the time to listen to him.

I told him I did two things when I was overwhelmed with worry and anxiety. “I say the name of Jesus over and over in my mind because He is the purest sweetest thing I know”; and “I pray for his irrational peace to guard my heart”.

He took my hand and placed it on his shoulder as if I were a priest. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be merciful to you. Amen brother” I said. “I will be back and you can tell me your whole story.”

This is not an easy world for anyone to negotiate no matter what your standing. We all end up dealing with the real issues of meaning, relationship, truth, life, death…

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