After spending years sleeping in shelters, car seats or park benches, it’s hard – near impossible – for the homeless to feel at ease once a roof actually materializes over their heads. There’s always the agonizing thought that it could all end in a flash and they could be back to square one – the streets. That’s a thought I harbor constantly, rendering a good night’s sleep difficult to come by. There are the frequent thoughts that I could lose my disability, insurance or the building’s rent could suddenly double in this volatile market, or something could happen to get me kicked out, like an argument or fight with a neighbor. Every day, just a cursory glance at the news reveals the thousands upon thousands of homeless people in the world, my people, people I could unwittingly rejoin if I don’t play my cards right. I don’t want to be homeless again. This hand-wringing anxiety is driving me bananas. I can’t even stay in a shelter because the men complain I snore too loudly or my BiPap machine is keeping them up. I wish I could relax, find some solace. Maybe in the next life.
With all the news and hubbub over Amazon being denied the greenlight to set up HQ2 in NY, as well as Amazon being seen as a contributor to the homelessness crisis in Seattle, you’d think the number one online retailer would be labeled as The Evil Empire. I’m sure quite a lot of folks view them that way and their overlord, Jeff Bezos, as being nothing more than a steel-spined, mace-wielding dungeon master. But all is not so graven, though. Amazon is now so big, I’m actually surprised they haven’t branched out and started selling other items you can’t usually buy online, like cars. Or hot food. And that’s what makes them a recluse’s dream – almost.
As a near recluse, it’s easy to see why people become this way. Enya, the multi-millionaire singer/songwriter who lives as a recluse in a well-protected castle in Dublin, is an example of this. Who wants to deal with all the ornery, subjugating personalities that you encounter every day? People can be ruthless and smothering, and I’ve found that, over the years, it was best to avoid them all personally. I’ve actually given it a shot, several times in fact, from when I lived in an isolated reservoir in upstate NY to my lengthy stays in my car on the highways and byways of America. I really wish I could stay hidden forever, but one thing keeps dragging me out of my castle – restaurants.
I have a history of buying food and items in bulk from Amazon; they’re perfect for that sort of thing. 100 cans of chili here, 150 cans of Chef Boyardee there – all that goes a long way with the 100 rolls of toilet paper that’ll get delivered promptly to your door, no questions asked. But, if you’re like me, and you sometimes get tired of eating the same things day in, day out, you have no choice but to dine in one of the local eateries every so often. I suppose getting in a little sunlight now and then is probably good for the soul, so I shouldn’t complain. Still, I have a prediction: Amazon will offer a drone service where you can order any meal from any restaurant and have it delivered to your site, remote or not, within, say, 30 minutes. Now that would be the perfect recluse’s dream.
After nearly five years of homelessness, I might finally move into a one bedroom apartment in Port Townsend at a retirement complex reserved for those over 62 years old or disabled. This should happen in a month or so to the tune of $950/mo. That’s a bit expensive given I only receive around $1270/mo but the complex does provide tenants with breakfast and dinner as well as all utilities. In the end, it may work out.
I’ve been feeling suicidal lately and it’s why I haven’t written in my blog much. I just want to sleep all day, if I could. Very difficult when you’re homeless, though, especially now when it’s sunny all the time and finding a good, quiet shaded spot is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I’m sleep deprived, and that’s what’s driving my depression. I’m also losing weight, but that’s not a complaint. I want to be lighter and have more energy. If I can reverse my diabetes, good, even if it means me having to stop taking Abilify, the anti-psychotic I’m on that can contribute to both binge eating and problem gambling.
Speaking of problem gambling, I’ve lost quite a few bits of change at two casinos near here – The Point and 7 Cedars. Technically, they’re not near here. The Point is 35 miles away in Kingston and 7 Cedars is 25 miles in Blyn near Sequim. One night, I was so drunk I blacked out in a parking lot in Port Townsend and work up at the Indian Arts Center across the street from 7 Cedars. Talk about unsafe! I don’t remember driving the 25 miles to get there. Obviously, I did it in a complete haze. Very dangerous. I woke up vomiting, looked around, saw a giant Native American sign and thought, “What the hell? There is no place with a sign like this in Port Townsend.” That’s when I realized I wasn’t in PT anymore. Scary. The drink was whiskey, I think. Never again, though. I learned my lesson. I could’ve crashed or hit somebody.
Lastly, on a positive note, I spoke to the local hospital’s financial aid center and they agreed I was poor enough that they would cover my hospital expenses. Sweet. That’s one less worry off my mind, especially since I just spent $200 fixing my car (new battery, cables). Now, if I could only find a quiet place to get some sleep.
I’ve been reading in different places online that administrators, and other people in charge of eradicating homelessness, actually don’t do that because they’re making six-figure salaries, and housing the homeless would mean an end to their careers. If that’s true, what a shame. I hope some kind of outside authority investigates that, but I fear that this level of corruption could possibly lead even to the mayor’s office. Obviously, I can’t just walk into a homeless advocacy office and ask to see their numbers, their track record of placing the homeless in housing. It’s probably quite poor and they would never admit it’s just a scam. Making money off the city’s most vulnerable. Isn’t that a shame? Later on today I’ll write to some of those concerned and see what they say. In my heart I know what they’ll write will be nothing but smoke and mirrors. Maybe I won’t waste my time and just celebrate St. Patrick’s Day drinking green beer like everyone else.
Port Townsend is a boat building, Victorian, seaside arts community that is popular with the retirement set. I’ve been here for one month and so far I have mixed feelings about it. Some people I’ve run into are outright friendly; others give me the feeling that they’re undercover racists but are too ball-less to show it. I could be wrong; wouldn’t be the first time, but that gnawing feeling one gets when one is stared at by strangers in public emporiums and other places seems to invade my thoughts negatively every so often. I’m holding out hope that, being homeless, I’m just accidentally running into the dregs of society and things will take a turn for the positive once I’m domiciled.
As far as the city proper is concerned, it is a small town so I wasn’t expecting wall to wall excitement. There are a lot of parks around, enough so that I can find places to doze off, in my car or out. They have quite a few restaurants, too. The problem here is they’re all expensive. Average meals range in price from $10 to $14 as opposed to Seattle where I’m used to $7 to $12. The two libraries I’ve been to are par for the course. Architecture here is great if you’re into that sort of thing. Crime isn’t frequent or intense here. About four to six people end up in jail every day because of crimes like drug possession, misdemeanor assaults and driving violations. I did notice an apartment complex that, while not ghetto, did seem ghetto-ish from outside. It has a pretty name, too: Nor’West Village. My name is on their wait list but I hope they don’t pick me.
The beaches here are pristine, almost as if no human has ever set foot on them. That was a surprise given how people love to graffiti and litter at every opportunity. I’m still in the shelter and probably will be for the next month or two. I try to come in late and leave early as much as I can because some of the clients rub me the wrong way. There is no lack of negative personalities here, that’s for sure. Next week I’m driving down to Poulsbo to pick up my bi-pap machine; people complain a lot here about my snoring so the machine should help. So far, I’m surviving. Things could be better, things could be worse. I’ll give the city another a month or two. If things don’t start looking up I may reconsider shooting back to Seattle. We’ll see.
Living with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is like having a well-armed bank robber stuck in your body 24 hrs/day. The “money” he steals from you is your freedom, energy, future, pride, time and confidence. Can you imagine? You’d like to get into a relationship with someone, but just the thought that you’ll ruin it somewhere up the road, or it won’t last anyway, is enough for you to turn away any possible suitors. I know better than to write novels as quickly as I do, but the chance that I may not live to see tomorrow means I have to quickly hurry up and write, edit on the fly, and hope what I publish on the internet is as good as books that took years to write.
PTSD doesn’t allow you to get close to anyone. How can you when you’re capable of such little trust? Is that guy trying to hurt me? Maybe. Is that woman trying to hurt me? Could be. Should I trust the smiling man talking to be in the mall? Probably not; he may just be looking to empty my wallet of every penny in it.
Time is one of PTSD’s bigger thefts. It tells you to forget about acquiring long-term housing, like a mortgage or beach-front property. Why should you? Something bad will happen and send you back out on the street anyway. And with me, I’ve spent so much time on the street that the thought of moving into a place is really not first and foremost on my mind. As I’ve said in the past, I’ve been undomiciled more than I’ve been domiciled in my life. Maybe I was a stray cat in one of my past lives, digging through garbage cans for my breakfast, lunch and dinner, constantly being chased up trees by the neighborhood canines.
I’d sure love to know that I have the time to write a novel the best way I can, but good ol’ PTSD would never stand for that bit of courtesy. Why should it? It doesn’t consider my writing as important as, say, constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure I’m not in somebody’s cross hairs.
And I don’t want to be homeless anymore. I can’t stand it. Last week I smashed two windows of a bank to get myself sent to jail because it was freezing and I had no place to sleep. (I’d accidentally locked my keys in my car – and my car was running all those three days I was incarcerated, too!) The judge said, “Eh, you’re not a criminal. You’re just crazy,” and released me. Maybe he’s right; maybe he’s wrong. I’m no criminal? The PTSD bandit in my head begs to differ, but then he thinks that he is me. My PTSD is me. That can’t be true. I hope not.
Robin is happy. Very happy. Up until a few days ago, most of my books were available only in Kindle editions. Amazon now lets writers issue their books as 6×9 paperbacks. So, these past few days, I reformatted my books for paperback. Took a while because I had to create new covers, reset line spacing, reformat indents, etc. I thought the reformatting was going to be a piece of cake. It wasn’t. I’d say it took me 5 days to reformat 5 titles. “Wetland” was already available in paperback. When I get money, if I get good money, I’ll purchase my paperback editions and try to get them sold in stores around here.
In other news, when I went to see my disability lawyer, the rude receptionist told me don’t bother them because they’re swamped with work and they’ll email me if something comes up. I have half a mind to pull my application from them and just deal with SSA myself. I can’t stand rude people. What is it with people that they feel they have the right to condescend to the poor and homeless? The homeless are people, too. I guess when you’re looking down on us, we just seem like the lower caste, the untouchables. Very disappointing.