…and back to the Wall…

St. Ferancis Park on Portland..Love it...

Last night I asked Luke and Ted, who has a very tough job helping families transition out of homelessness into a more secure place, for their opinions, questions, views and responses. Unlike many men their age (both are my oldest son’s age) they are direct, yet also kind and respectful. It was an open and honest discussion in which I hope they realized I was listening carefully.

I remember well being 28 and having a somewhat closer and/or vibrant experiential relationship with the Living Jesus than my battle worn elders in their 50s. So now in my 50’s I hear Paul saying to Timothy “Let no one despise you because of your youth” and I learn from them and their passion for Him rekindles me.

This is very good.

They gave good counsel. They noted that I am not a humble man. I am not, though humiliated and humbled in some very deep ways in some areas, not in others. They kindly touched on those. They asked for something still harder than what Leslie (Moon) had made me think about…will you give yourself over for 6 months completely to a program where you cannot work but just give over?”

I was not sure. I told the truth. I said I was 50/50 because I had already had to accept working and having a roommate (in program) as opposed to what I wanted which was solitude (read isolation).

By morning I was at 80/20 in favor of committing to a 6 month program. Heck…six months is nothing.

So once again I gave over.

And once again the stakes were raised. When I met with the folk at Portland Rescue Mission I was told it was a minimum 1 year program with no work.  Maybe 18 months.

Six I think I would/could have done, and I am grateful to Ted and Luke for being so forthcoming in their critiques of me. I do not think they are mistaken…just that there is no program that fits me currently…regardless of sobriety (that can actually work against you)

One small glimmer of light in a day that started, for me at 2:48 PST this am and it is now 8:18….so 17.5 hours straight like a ping pong ball from doors shut in what turned ot to be a Spanish speaking AA meeting in Albina to Starbucks on an island, to shopping Ross then Casual XL (for mutants…did you know they do not charge any sales tax? It’s weird…the shorts are $38 and they ask for exactly $38).

Then you bus, then Tri-Max to the Rescue mission. The Chaplain (Tim, who looks like Randy Quaid when he was 22) is not available till 2 p.m. But they suggest you hoof it to TPI, a transitional service. You get there at noon just as they are locking the doors for lunch. BUT, the gal says “You need your proof of social security card to apply for your Oregon ID”.

Well you have to have an Oregon ID for most everything…that and a TB shot…but that doesn’t open till 1:15 near the Gospel Mission folks and you have to come back on Friday for proof to get in a shelter.

You following?

So now you grab the Max to Pioneer…then walk 11 blocks uphill to the Social Security office. Unlike California, they see you within 5 minutes.

You take the Tri-Max back down and miss your stop and walk it back in and get to TPI at 1:00 p.m.

There is a line and you are number 35. Numbers 29, 30, and 32 all request new IDs. You are called next because 33 and 34 have bailed.

They cannot process your request as they are “only allowed” three ID request s in the am and 3 after the office reopens after lunch.

Liz, behind the counter is nice and really is helpful…she says ..comeback at 7:30 and get in line then gives me a bunch of good advice.

Now it is time to get my TB test…then meet with Chaplain Tim (Randy Quaid). I had been told that the chaplain could grant me a 7 day bed if he wanted. It’s gonna rain this weekend in Portland and I am gonna get soaked unless “Zombie” comes trough with a tarp. I have been scoping out illegal places to camp all day long.

This is what it comes to. When it is dark, it is illegal for perhaps up to 800 or more souls to sleep anywhere. Class action suites have been filed and, perhaps, when enough of the middle class is homeless something may be done. But until then, if you cannot meet all requirements for shelter (like full-time work…I have only been here two days and spent them running after ID cards, shelter info, TB shots, meals, housing, food, etc…before Thursday Day happens and I am once again out on the street.

From Love and Death. Woody Allen (Boris) searchingly at the camera and says within earshot of Diane Keaton (Sonya)

Boris: Blackness, emptiness, nothingness…

Sonya: I’m sorry, what did you say?

Boris: Oh sorry, just planning my future…

Today felt a bit like that. Endless hustling from service to service only to find that they needed another service to provide what they needed for their service. I applied for one job at the world renown Powell’s Books…that as kinda fun. No openings.

The reality that even if I get a job tomorrow my chances of a bed by weekend are slim and I will be illegally camping somewhere like 800 others…and that the rain is coming on the weekend. Thus I need to meet Zombie at St. Francis for dinner (read slop) tomorrow in case he remembers.

Still, will I praise Him. But I do admit, it is a bit like the Four Welshmen in Monty Python comparing “how bad they had it” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo). I do dream of a corridor, or a closed business to open it’s doors to those who simply need shelter from the rain and cold which is coming.

I found a park within 50 minutes where I can purchase a yearly day pass for camping for $30…but then there is transport. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Oh and I did leave at 6 am to catch a 7:30 meeting in Albina (before gong to get my shorts…sheesh $38)  on an Island between Portland and Vancouver Oregon.

I felt discouraged today because, as seems constant, I just do not have enough time. It is not fair to burden Luke and Alison any further…and won’t. So Tomorrow night is my last night then I pack up as light as I can and head out for who knows what and where.

I asked around. Got a tip on an unpoliced area…and I have one myself…I think. But what has become of humanity when we are this fragmented and lost? And why cite those who wish to simply sleep at night? Why not provide an area with a policeman or two (certainly less expense than the way it is done now)  to oversee an area where such a population can try and rebuild and not live in fear?

Oh yeah…that would be humane.

Tomorrow: Job hunting all day…that and scoping out refuge with covering for Thursday. I have to keep my powder dry (equipment and good clothes). Not easy.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. beercrow
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 05:42:42

    i say do your time. six months is a small cost to change your life. abandon all to Him and watch the miracles happen when you are ready to see them. eat crow, it tastes terrible but is a profound remedy for the leper in us all.


  2. Tamara
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 00:38:58

    It’s funny to me how you react to them asking for $38. I moved away from Oregon a little over a year ago and it took almost a year before I stopped thinking people were trying to rip me off by asking for $38.85 or some such.

    Powell’s is notoriously hard to get a job in. Know people who even had ins and it took them years.

    What’s it take to get in to Dignity Village?

    I wish you luck in all things. Your stories fascinate me.


  3. Martha
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:18:48

    Walls are meant to be climbed! 😀


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