2011 – Maturity, Humor, Hulk and HELP?

Three Quotes:

“Maturity is grace under pressure ~ Ernest Hemingway

“Life if viewed from a distance is comedy; if viewed up close a tragedy” ~ Charlie Chaplin

Hulking

My first night at I was a run with the other 200 men like the bulls of Pamplona through the streets of the Eugene Mission. 200 men processed like cheese and I was curd 147.

They herd you into an Olde Tyme Gospel Hour sanctuary and (I am not making this up) put on an old bad regord of bad religious tunes to warm you up. I suddenly feel I am in q 1940s Steinbeck novel and all is hopelessly lost.

But after you have been berated and send through the  Humilatior you are stripped naked upstairs and all your belongings go into a numbered bin (“You are 147”). If you are me, you look sidewise at this moment for a second, then accept.

You have 3 minutes to shower and then towel off and look for pajama tops and bottoms amkd 47 other naked men and four steel slabbed tables.

Fun huh?

Okay…stop the music. I am 6’6” and 335 lbs at this time (much bigger boy then).

So after 30 minutes of searching diligently I have something that will barely drape and pull possible up in various places….dang…

I go to the mirror. The shirt is ripping in places and shredded in others. The pants come up to just over my knees.

I start laughing.

I am The Hulk.

I think the point was in all my raves and times  over those years there was never a place that was more utter de-humanizing (Oh City Team Oakland comes close – idiots).

I was talking tonight with “Ronny” down at the river. Blue tarp, sleeping baag – who knows if they will let him camp. I brought him some pop-top soups and spoons and water, beers, fresh apples…hey…even hot popcorn! We talked a bit.

I can’t make it all better for him. But I can look him in the eye, brng some simple food and care.

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It’s Good To Fear Book

stVincent

Where it all began in 2009

 

I have feared this book (long since written) for years now . I wrote it on the run, existentially raw, at risk, on various computers and often at great risk up and down the West Coast.

I mean you would have to have been there cold, wet in a Portland doorway in a downpour ; or in Seattle with an eye gone wrong; or rolled and stolen after five months of good work and then spilled empty into the same town the woman you loved lived in…destitute.

Guns, subway trains, knives …cops kicking at your feet. Hate and loss and yearning.

But I’m cool now or you would not keep reading. No. I’m at Berkeley and hot stuff. Eh.

I once serious thought of pitching myself of the Burnstreet Bridge in Portland on a very dark night.  I have a savage self -protection module so this was rare and severe – thoughts of my only daughter Camille sobered me and weather the night.

Ther are things more important than US – like our Little girls.

Savage things happened after…next things next…maybe you live…maybe you die…sexy…but also pathetic…That’ll forge antiumantium in you.

Every storyin this book is true. It all happened –  Pinky swears.

People are afraid to tell the truth…it is not so bad…nothing really bad happens.  Maybe you laugh.

Sure, you say..”it’s easier with nothing to lose.”

True. I’ll give you that. My walking gaunt and lean in the long coat and hat at 4 a.m in the dark against four guys with golf clubs and a guy with a gun is a kinda of suicide….unless…

I had all the cards…

Six years earlier I had no idea I had any cards at all, or that there was a game..or that I could make a difference…or that…oh boy….

 

 

 

 

The Ironies of Studying Poverty

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This is one of seven textbooks for my Old Testament class at the GTU. They total ear $200. I have three major class and two smaller ones totaling 12 units – a full load.

I got some advance money for school but had some extra expenses in preparation for Fall and Winter as a Homeless person living under the Nimitz freeway. I also got hit with a massive phone bill (which is another sorry- I have since stopped the bleeding and the phone entirely – though it costs me $21 a month to silence it) and I got shortchanged $64 on my foodstamps given a mistake that was anyone’s guess. Try living on $130 a month for food?

In the midst I do find it ironic that one of my texts on poverty (which I live in) should be $30. I simply cannot afford it. I will have to check it out of the library or read it at ABSW where they keep a copy of each book in a room where they cannot be removed.

It is what it is.

I want to read this book because I will be reading from the inside – not the outside like my classmates or at least most of them.

I do not know yet if I can take out loans or get grants enough to get into the dorms in the Spring. I hope so because i am not sure about studying in camp. I am not sue about the quality of work – long term. I’m tough – but I am not sure I am that tough.

They system is not exactly working in my favor. They don;t reward my initiative or movement away from poverty in any way. If anything I put what little benefits I have at risk.

If I can get into the dorms perhaps I can get a part-time job in Berkeley. I have gone through the nearly intolerable hoops needed to apply for Social Security Insurance as I have not effectively worked since 2009 and have been disabled. But obviously there are some things I can do – just not 8 hours of anything rote.

People have no diea what it is like being poor. I never did. It takes massive planning to use all your resources effectively and at the right time. I suppose – it is like being a football team that is really undermanned and which is up against a much better team. You have to use your resources at just the right time and just the right way. Mistakes are HUGE.

If you lose a cable you just go buy anther one. If I lose one – I am messed up for ten days. It’s disheartening. I have to thoughtfully pack my two bags every day for every contingency and for all day and evening.

And I have to keep going whether I want to or not.

If I hadn’t I would not now be in Grad School, and I would not soon be marshaling my arse to go all the way over to Berkeley to the Library to read. It will cost me two yours extra two get two hours of reading in.

As Vonnegut says, “so it goes.

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and then…nothing

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At at certain point, when everything grinds down to a halt and stops working,..your websites won;t work, you cannot load new sites …no one has answered a single resume and cover letter in weeks that you have sent out (and there have been maybe 25-30 you have worked your ass on in all directions) you realize there just isn’t any wind and the sails are dead and the boat just isn’t moving.

You have done all you can think of doing.

Hell, I even dyed my hair to fend of age-ism, updated my Linked-in, planned to re-do my whole online presentation (would not work – at all – which is problematic if you are a Content Manager and you are foiled at every corner – but most of that is simply that I am out of money and resources.

Sometimes disciplines, a great attitude, a stellar resume and plenty of hard work result in flat out nothing. – and here is where I am discouraged. I have to report this stuff back to people who have a lot less chance of getting work than I do.

That is depressing the hell out of me today.

Me? I am used to going without – most everything. I honestly think that were it not for other people I am not sure I would care that much. Don’t get me wrong – I would not drink or despair. I would simply stop playing YOUR game.

The stakes are too high – the benefits too low (no one is really happy) and everyone is lying all the time.

My problem this morning was I woke up with false hope. I keep thinking God really care if I get work or not. He doesn’t. He doesn’t care at all. He has some altogether other agenda that I am so oblivious to – so tone deaf too – that I cannot even hear it.

So now. I’ll keep eating my near perfect diet, live my ascetic lifestyle which includes no tobacco, alcohol, sugar and hardly any salt. I’ll exercise (walking several miles a day) and live alone looking to help my fellow humans. I’ll apply at jobs…but no one will call. My resume is superb and just to put a point ion it the first day I did it Jawbone got back with me in 30 minutes wanting an immediate interview two days later.

No.  I could have a job tomorrow. But it’s not what God wants. Why? No idea. Ask Him.

I used to not get calls because I was afraid to go out and apply. No true anymore. I do several most every day. I’ve done up to nine in one day.

Well not today. Nope. I’m on strike today. Fuck this. It’s dumb. I exercise my freewill to NOT play along.

Then All Hell Broke Loose: The Year of Steel

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A year ago yesterday I had everything – or so I thought. I had a 1400 sq. foot studio, was doing the best art of my life – had my art, Rod Swenson’s art and plenty of room on the walls for new art on the walls. I seemed stable, was losing weight. I was in love with the red-headed bombshell and we had made passionate love a week earlier like there was no tomorrow.

That turned out to be true – there was no tomorrow.

And there needed to be.

I will forever be grateful to her for helping save my life, for seeing me lovingly through the rough waters of transition from discovering my mental illness through the year or two it takes to adjust to life on the right meds and without self-medicating with alcohol. It’s a whole new life and even as fast as I am at adjusting it was going to take SOME time.

But not too much. It was becoming co-dependent – or had with no ill-intent at all. Everyone meant well. Everyone loved so very much. It had to break apart and it had to be permanent.

*******

While we are here I wanna clarify something for everyone. people think God is a killjoy when it comes to sex. Naw. He created all those amazing nerve endings and even some organs that only provide pleasure. So dispell that notion.

But a wise friend of mine once advised me against intimacy prior to marriage saying “if you break up later it will only hurt 1,000 times more.”

True that. Fuck it hurts so much more.

I mean unless you are one of “those guys,” which I have never been.

No, next time (this time) I wait. It’s to protect me from hurt. You wanna go off and eat a buzzsaw? Go ahead. I’m done.

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March 13, 2014 began perhaps the hardest year of all for me: The Year of Steel.

In one day I lost it all. This was not new. I have had that happen maybe four major times. Still a shock to the system it does get easier. But it ushers in old companions for a short time. I don’t crave alcohol at all – but it can be triggered.

The woman upstairs broker her lease, that broke my lease – the women I rent from went cannibalistic/militant – I got triggered big0time (I had cut my meds in half too to lose weight – BAD MOVE) – I drank – The vortex started -Add mega paranoia by others and fuckage…lies, falsifications (including actual forged documents – I shit you not…wow..that was a first)…and I go from being a good guy to Charles Manson’s twin in a day.

I wake up a few days later at “The Hitchin Post.” I am not made of steel. I am a broken-hearted man, alone – made of raw nerve endings dipped in fear.

I was tested in every way possible the next twelve months – alone. Haha – I was even bitten by a poisonous spider – haha. I was cheated, berated, my stuff lost in LA – I cannot even begin to tell you the adventures NOT recorded in Sansadobe.

The year ended with me in the hospital after all my hard work of pushing through PTSD and Homelessness in Santa Cruz in a somewhat record 43 days.

But by then I was a tough son of a bitch. You were gonna have to kill me to stop me. So when I woke up in that bed I called on my family and went to Carmel and pulled it together, got counsel (good counsel) and re-ordered my world.

I had developed a core of steel over the year. Not built from defiance, or anger or even a twinge of bitterness. This was built on and in faith. I chose to come to Oakland with no fear at all even though it meant Homelessness. I chose to look for my mate – another Jedi – because I knew I would find her here – and I knew that I needed to find her while I was NOT successful (anyone will love me later).

So much of life is a matter of the head and heart and I watch the men and women around me struggle with this. Oh yeah – the Homeless do too.

Laura – my girl – and I are not in a co-dependent relationship. She is a co-warrior alongside me. I do not need her help (except prayer). She notes my steel and is drawn to it. Those who knew me a year ago would scarcely recognize me. I am still every bit as sweet (maybe even sweeter and more patient). But I have a core that is steely and utterly direct.

I leave St. Mary’s tomorrow morning for Marin. I will be staying at Mill Street the next month while I continue to pursue work. I have been sick pretty much the whole time I have been at St. Marys (actually allergic – there is a mold problem). I have not allowed this to slow me but maybe one day the whole time). I am first one up and last to bed usually.

This morning the staff worker berated the whole crowd of us for some of the guys getting up before six a.m. and cleaning up their stuff quietly.

“It’s not like you have anywhere to go..like any of you have JOBS!” she yelled.

No need to waste energy on a response to her.

I work every day very day as hard as I did as an executive, or when I ran Maverickssurf.com – maybe harder. I have a job – It’s called life.

Over the year many of your may have noted a decided change in my tone and in my overt references to God. I make no apologies. I have deepened – and I was no slouch before.

I still hate religion and feel that it is marked by everything counter to Gospel: coercion, fear, greed and the attempt to take away freedom. It is contrary to faith, hope and love. Therefore it is anti-God.

But I would be remiss if I did not openly state that the steel which has formed within me is a direct result of deeper time and devotion to the Risen One – to Jesus who I experience as alive. I realize many of you do not. It is never a judgment with me. I share my experience – and that is all it is. He is my anchor.

Why I Love Jesus

HELLOMOTOIDENI am not known as a “bitter guy” but I was growing a root towards this woman at the shelter. She took every opportunity to take offense and pick a fight. Where she did not take offense she created it.

I found myself mimicking Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October “We must give the American a wide berth.”

In this case, this large Afro-American lesbian with a chip on her shoulder the size of Gibraltar.

No doubt it had been foisted upon her. And I had a suspicion that I – as the large “white man” was the embodiment of her hate.

Fuck.

So if I stepped anywhere near her she was on me like white on rice – whatever the hell that means (I really have no idea – it sounds vaguely racist – and you all know i am not so…).

And I am tiring of being the symbol of other white men’s sins – really.  I understand it, but I do not have to like it or even necessarily accept it.

With each incident where I was innocent the root of bitterness grew to the point where Sunday night I started to wish she would just “go away.” She already had displaced my work area (the office area where I had computer access early in the morning. But I could hardly admit this bothered me because it was toi hook-up her breathing machine – basically a medical necessity and how could I place my own needs over that!? No I could never admit that I had such an evil and selfish thought!

And frankly, had she been nice about it and not snapped at me at every opportunity I think I would not have thought about it. But she did, so I did. She wwas petty, so I started to think more and more that way.

The Bible describes it as a “root of bitterness” and it is apt. Ever deal with a nasty set of roots after they have tunneled down?

Well the next morning I went into the locker room and she was in there. “Oh boy…stay the hell away from her” was all I could think as I stared right into my locker all stiff like.

“Oh…help!” she suddenly gasped.

“I twirled around in an instant transformed and suddenly at her side. “What can I do. Tell me what is happening with you.” I said calmly.

She told me she was very short of breath. We worked together. She had me stuff her clothes that were on the floor into her bag, then gather up the change that had fallen on the floor onto it as well.

My eyes are not very good so at times she had to direct me. As I said, we worked together like we had done this before. Then I closed up her locker and told her to steady herself on my arm and slowwly led her out of the room and to a chair.

Once safe, I asked her how she was. We talked a little then I got her some water and alerted the front desk. I had done this many times up in Portland at the Mission so I knew what I was doing.

I checked back with her in a little while and she thanked me.

It was then that I thanked Jesus because I knew that without His direct influence there is no way I make THAT transition from bitterness to service in a millisecond. No way in hell.

And that is why I love Him.

No one in this Universe loves like Him. No one. And the sole reason I love at all is because of that.

A New Partnership

gear-shifter

A serious gear shifter.

Mark my words..my new “partnership” with Don Hornes will change both our lives for good.

As previously mentioned, Don and I locked horns the first time we met – but all it did was bring out the steel in both of us. We have had a chance to observe each other in a variety of different situations over the last 5 weeks or so – and that has just added depth and knowledge to our mutual initial gut impressions.

Which was correct on both scores.

We share a common desire to serve people; specifically those who are homeless and see them delivered into better situations – tangibly. We share a common intelligence,ability to communicate and a gregarious good humor.

And we are both madmen.

Where we differ is Don is a natural and unrelenting salesman in an overt and extroverted way; whereas I am the same in an introverted way. It is a perfect combination.

In our own ways we both have a vision for an Azotus Cafe. He has a different name for his – but it is remarkably the same.

But that is way down the Road.

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Both of us know enough to focus on this first house – rent it; get the right people in it; establish the right rules for me to enact and keep consistent (and graciously applied) – and do it all in two weeks.

In the meantime I will be building his first website for his plumbing business: Spyke’s 23 &1/2 Hour Plumbing! (His idea on the non-24 hour thing – (brilliant as “24-hour” is invisible to everyone now).

Much needed bank for the Macman (I will not be paying rent at the new house. My compensation for being “House Manager” is free room and utilities).

This  brings up questions as I seem to be becoming more ensconced in Oakland (it will only deepen now). I will be getting more accounts for freelance work HERE; working at painting again for local galleries; and – at my father’s suggestion – start doing some comedy at local clubs.

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If I could point to one of the things that several bouts with Homelessness has actually BLESSED me with (that normal people will probably never have or get) it is the ability to shift quickly from one life possibility to a whole different one (in utter reality and without taking the edge off with a pill or a glass of wine) in a very short period of time.

When I was a pastor I thought I had to shift fast (and I did. One minute you are talking joy with a person, then you turn and someone’s father has died – you had better be able to shift FAST ) – but tnothing like what I have had to do increasingly over these last years. My life can change in a day – the way a man;s life changes in afilm – and he has to have enough within himself to roll with it; keep hi head and re-work a new scenario.

I have failed in this many times – even to the point of almost dying. But I never make the same mistake twice. You can foo l me with a wicked pitch in one game. Throw it again and I will take you deep. I adapt, learn…grow.

On Friday it was within a span of eight minutes – from $189k job as potential world-wide director of brand and marketing for Jawbone to “house Manager” in Oakland making bank, instead, doing websites, copy-editing and sell oil paintings.

A year ago I was supposed to make a living selling oil paintings in Santa Cruz but was too afraid. Now I am not afraid of anything (well…almost anything). I’ll paint them and I’ll sell them.

My point is, that eight minutes could snap a person’s neck if they had no real training – but I have been trained well the last 14 years; and particularly the last six.

*******

Today I am sick – I mean really sick. This is where the training comes in handy. I know exactly what to do. I know it is a major trigger. I told several people about it; cancelled going to the city for church (sent a note to my pastor); am on high alert (because while I don’t fear hardly anything anymore the one thing I definitely an upper respiratory infection while being homeless. It is one of my few vulnerable points.)

It’s funny, no? I am not afraid of guns, knives or the harsh judgment of others. But a really bad head cold that could spill in pneumonia freaks me out.

If I was ever going to drink it would be a day like today – if it got more painful.

But I won’t. I will go right into the pain if it happens. I promise. I’ll take that bullet and watch it go in and out the other side if I have to. I have alerted others.

Like I said, I try to never make the same mistake twice. I’ve just made a lot of “first mistakes.”

God is about transformation if you allow. On our own? People do not change. I certainly would not. But I am in constant change. My gearbox glows sometimes – but I am alive; never bored and God is running this show – not me. That becomes clearer and clearer.

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Epilogue

I did some good self-care yesterday and am on the mend; strength returning; had a good meeting with Don. Still need some free-lance as I am utterly broke – but I am happy and content today. I shifted through yesterdays twists and turns with no small amount of artistry like a Formula One racer. I had indeed learned from past mistakes and took the hairpins with some dexterity. THAT is an art God wants us to learn. Why? I have no idea, but the word “sanctification” comes to mind.

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